Madrid bans Catholic group's anti-transgender bus

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Hazte Oir's bus has been branded anti-transgender in SpainImage source, Hazte Oir
Image caption,
Catholic group Hazte Oir claims its bus is just stating biological facts

A bright orange bus emblazoned with an anti-transgender message has been forced off the roads in Spain, after activists, trade unions, and Madrid City Council united against it.

The slogan on the bus read: "Boys have penises, girls have vulvas. Do not be fooled."

A Catholic group, Hazte Oir, had planned to take it on a nationwide tour of Spanish cities.

The group said the ban was illegal and that it planned to acquire a new bus.

One message on the side of the banned bus states: "If you are born a man, you are a man. If you are a woman, you will continue to be one."

It is believed to be a response to posters put up in northern Spain by a transgender rights group, which read: "There are girls with penises and boys with vulvas. It's as simple as that."

Image source, Twitter / JCesarPL
Image caption,
The bus was probably a response to posters put up by a transgender rights group

An outcry arose in various quarters when the bus was spotted in Madrid on Monday.

The Equality spokeswoman for the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, Angeles Alvarez, branded the bus tour "a hate campaign based on intolerance", according to Spain's El Pais newspaper.

A spokeswoman for socialists on Madrid City Council, Purificacion Causapie, called it "contrary to the dignity and rights of transsexual children".

She urged the mayor's office to ensure Madrid remains "a city free of discrimination, violence and attacks on minors". Madrid City Council said the vehicle could incite hatred.

'The bus of shame'

Though the outrage centres on its message, the bus has technically been ordered off the roads for breaching municipal rules on outdoor advertising.

Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena said the City Council wants the vehicle out of the city "as soon as possible".

The Councilman for Security, Javier Barbero, said on Tuesday that police had contained "the bus of shame".

The president of Hazte Oir, which translates as "Make yourself heard" has argued that the group has a right to protest against "laws of sexual indoctrination" and the right to freedom of speech.

Ignacio Arsuaga claimed the slogan on the bus states only "a fact of biology that is studied in schools".

Image source, Hazte Oir
Image caption,
Hazte Oir president Ignacio Arsuaga says the group has a right to free speech

The group told the BBC it was not expecting to meet so much opposition.

"The Madrid City Council kidnapped the bus this morning, with no legal order from any court. This is illegal, and our lawyers are preparing a complaint so that our right to freedom of expression is restored," Mr Arsuaga said.

"We are going to appeal this unjust decision and file a criminal case against the extreme-left Madrid mayor."

Hazte Oir intends to visit nine Spanish cities over two or three weeks, and is looking at getting a second bus.

The Mayor of Barcelona made clear the controversial coach would not be welcome there, writing on Twitter: "In Barcelona there is no place for LGBT-phobic buses. We want our children to grow in freedom and without hatred."

Barcelona's City Council has warned the group it could face a fine of up to €3,000 (£2,560; $3,160) for breaching advertising laws if the bus takes to the streets.