European LGBTQ centers offer unfathomable resources to their constituents, which is why it’s heart-wrenching to report that not one but two of them — in Barcelona and Rome — suffered attacks during the month of January 2019 alone. Barcelona’s LGBTQ center had only been open one week at the time it was vandalized.
Early in the morning on Jan. 25, the Rome headquarters of Italy’s LGBTQ Center was broken into. The vandals reportedly caused around €10,000 ($11,400) worth of damage and stole laptops and charitable donations that were being kept inside. That was money typically spent on providing shelter for LGBTQ people in need and STI testing.
Security camera footage shows a hooded individual entering the offices.
Fabrizio Marrazzo, a spokesperson for the center, says it’s “upsetting to see the violation of rooms where every day we provide support and listen to those who come to us. The CCTV footage shows the thieves comfortably walking around and calmly pillaging whatever was available.”
He believes whoever broke into their Rome headquarters was familiar with the space and had been planning the burglary. The day after the burglary, a crowdfunding page was set up for the Rome center.
The second of the two European LGBTQ centers vandalized this month was The Centre LGBTI Barcelona, which opened on Jan. 19. It was early on the morning of Jan. 27 that its front windows were smashed in and it was painted with homophobic graffiti, including “Fuck LGBT.”
“We condemn the attack and we make it very clear that we will continue working and defending the space and our rights and freedoms,” said Observatori Contra l’Homofòbia on Twitter.
Following the Barcelona incident, the city’s LGBTQ community staged a rally in front of the center. Even the city’s mayor, Ada Colau Ballano, who is herself openly bisexual, attended and showed her support for the local queer community.
Video of Ballano’s speech at the rally is available to watch on Facebook. “Today this city has sent a clear and blunt message: hate is not welcome,” she posted on social media the next day.