A gay rights group in the Catalonia region of north-eastern Spain has warned of increasing incidents of homophobia following attacks in Barcelona over the weekend.
The Observatory Against Homophobia (OCH) said five gay men had been injured in three separate attacks.
In the most serious incident, a man needed facial surgery after he and his friends were attacked on a beach. Police are investigating but have not made any arrests, local media reported. Local politicians took to social media to condemn the attacks.
“We will never normalize this situation,” tweeted the city council’s head of citizenship rights Marc Serra Sole.
OCH president Eugeni Rodríguez said the incident on Barcelona’s Somorrostro Beach involved two gay couples who were set upon by three men.
The men approached them and insulted them and then attacked them after checking no police officers were in the area, Mr Rodríguez said, according to the Spanish EFE news agency.
The most seriously injured victim underwent surgery on Sunday. Mr Rodríguez called the incident “barbaric” and said the number of homophobic attacks was rising.
“It is a spiral to which we are not accustomed – it is of extreme violence,” Mr Rodríguez said. “It is terrible that, after the pandemic, we are in this situation.”
The OCH has registered 76 such attacks in Catalonia so far this year.
The other homophobic attacks in Barcelona over the weekend took place in the district of Gràcia on Saturday morning and another later in the day near the city’s auditorium, OCH said.
Catalonia’s equality minister, Tània Verge, also condemned the violence and tweeted that fighting homophobia was a high priority for her department.