The president of a Spanish ultra-Catholic group on Tuesday presented himself to the European Parliament as a victim of media and political persecution because he opposes so-called gender ideology.
Ignacio Arsuaga, who heads the far-right anti-LGBT group Hazte Oír ("Make Yourself Heard"), said at a press conference in Brussels that freedom of expression and of education were under assault in Spain.
"We have come to the European Parliament to talk about freedom of speech and of education, two freedoms that in Spain are being infringed upon when it comes to those of us who do not share the dogmas of political correctness and gender ideology," Arsuaga said.
The controversial Christian activist was invited by Italian Member of the European Parliament Lorenzo Fontana, who belongs to the populist, Eurosceptic and far-right Europe of Nations and Freedom Group (which also includes France's Marine Le Pen) and represents the anti-immigration Lega Nord ("North League") party.
The European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová, had previously been sent a non-partisan letter signed by more than 70 MEPs stating their opposition to Hazte Oír and its platform, which they said reinforced a culture of exclusion and discrimination.
Arsuaga claimed that the letter was a sign of the elites' attempts to silence dissidents.
The letter was sent in response to Hazte Oír's recent campaign against transsexuality, which featured an orange bus that sported the slogan: "Boys have a penis. Girls have a vulva. Don't be fooled. If you're born a man, you're a man. If you're a woman, you'll keep on being one."
The signatory MEPs said that the bus constituted a "transphobic" attack that incited hatred and was a "grave violation" of the European Union's fundamental principles.
The letter called on Jourová to urge the Spanish government to revoke Hazte Oír's official status as an organization of public interest, which allows the group to benefit from tax exemptions.
During Arsuaga's press conference, three people silently displayed pro-LGBT signs and flags in protest.
Marina Albiol, an MEP of the Spanish Izquierda Unida ("United Left") party, said that neither the EP nor any other public institution should serve as a venue for speech that goes against the dignity of transgender people.
Independent MEP Beatriz Becerra, who caucuses with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, said that "Hazte Oír's transphobia and discrimination are contrary to the spirit of the EU."
Arsuaga started to gain notoriety in Spain when he previously railed against what he termed the "Gay Inquisition" and declared war on "gender indoctrination."