Spanish gay farmer’s hunger strike leads to success

by Lorraine Williamson
hunger strike is over

VALLADOLID – Baldo López is a gay farmer from the village of Tejedo de Sil in the Spanish province of León. He has been on a hunger strike for four days. The cattle farmer demands a solution because he and his cows cannot access the common pastures in his community.

According to Baldo, homophobia is the basis for this. Moreover, he never received a response to a request from the municipality to let his more than a hundred cows graze on those pastures. Without that right, he would not be eligible for a support scheme that he does need to survive financially. 

On foot to Leon with his cow

He said in El Español that he was thwarted to such an extent that he sought redress in León and in local media. He walked 112 km with his cow ‘Valenciana’ to the provincial capital. When he did not receive any response, he went to Valladolid. There, he started his hunger strike in front of the regional Ministry of the Environment. “I’ll stay here until they listen to me.” 

Conversation with minister 

And so it happened. On Thursday afternoon, he received the final reply and was received by the regional environment minister Juan Carlos Suárez-Quiñones. He has now promised to hear the case, as soon as he has received all the required documents from Baldo. The minister stated to the Spaniards that he will see all sides of the matter and act on that basis. 

ASSSA - health insurance in Spain

Homophobic insults 

Baldo’s request is that his cows can graze on both private and public pastures. However, the municipality concludes that the farmer has not been present at the last two pasture auctions. According to Baldo, he made his request, but it was brushed aside and he was also insulted with words such as ‘faggot’. He went to Tejedo with his friend a few years ago and says he suffered homophobic insults from the start. 

This morning, he ended his hunger strike following the meeting with the minister. On his social networks, it can be seen that the starving farmer was the first to eat a sandwich in a bar in Valladolid. In the meantime, Baldo is now back home. He is satisfied with his action because he met many nice people who let him spend the night in their homes along the route to Valladolid. He also received a lot of support through social media. 

Homophobia in Spain 

Last fall, Minister Grande-Marlaska announced the growing hate crime rate in Spain of nearly 70% since 2019 was “worrying”. The majority of those crimes and complaints concern sexual orientation. According to the minister, the number of complaints and political tension on the subject are also increasing. Men between the ages of 26 and 40 form the largest group of victims. 

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