HATE CRIMES and discrimination are to be tackled head on in Orihuela with a special task force within the local police.
The municipality covers many areas popular with expats such as Cabo Roig, Villamartin and La Zenia – among others.
Orihuela City Council have assigned the special brigade, with specialized training to combat homophobia, racism and xenophobia.
Antonio Sánchez, Councillor for Citizen Security, explained it was one of his first commitments when he took office.
That being, to ensure respect for human rights and real equality throughout the municipality.
The task force joins the brigade set up to monitor school absenteeism and control of minors.
Sánchez stressed that both units would compliment each other and focus on local schools, admitting that the main problems have been detected among young people.
He said: “Just as the police work against gender violence, this new unit is aimed at detecting, helping and advising those who suffer some type of abuse due to their race or sexual orientation.”
Sánchez added that several schools have reported: “cases of bullying, a real problem that must be given priority to tackle it.”
He promised that from the next school year, “more equality subjects will be included in the curriculum.”
Adding that: “[Because] the awareness work must be inside and outside of schools, the entire Local Police Corps will be trained in this matter.”
The Department has even gone as far as refurbishing the Local Police office, on Calle de Arriba, to house a separate area that fosters a friendly welcoming climate for victims of hate.
Juan Miguel López is president of Atrévete, Orihuela’s first group set up to defend the rights of the LGTBI community.
He said, “this service is necessary to end the prejudices and stigmas people suffer.”
Reporting that, “young people tell us about the insults and aggression they receive.”
López insists that, “everything adds up [and] it is clear that with the new task force, the municipality wins.”