CITIZENGO’S SISTER ORGANIZATION ATTACKED BY SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT IN SPAIN
Not long ago we learnt that the Spanish government made a hostile attack against HazteOír, a prominent Spanish association that has conducted highly successful campaigns in support of life, human dignity, the family and religious freedom. S4C asked Ignacio Arsuaga, president of both HazteOír and CitizenGo about the reasons for such an antagonistic move by a leftist Spanish government.
We heard on the news not long ago that HazteOír, an organization that is part of CitizenGO lost its charitable status due to a government decision. What were the reasons given?
The government of Spain, that is formed by socialists and supported by communists, took away our charitable status, not because our activities lack the necessary validating criteria but because we began a campaign that they found displeasing.
Pedro Sánchez and his government revoked our charitable status as a means of repression and ideological persecution.
The only reason for removing our charitable status certificate was the so-called #HOBus campaign we ran in 2017 that aimed to defend the right of parents to educate their children in accordance with our stated values while at the same time, confronting the sexual indoctrination that children have to face in the classrooms. The socialist government said our campaign only promoted the values defended by HazteOír and did not respect the opinions and values expressed by others.
Is that a normal procedure in Spain –that the government removes the charitable status of an organization?
It often happens that charitable status is removed from organizations that don’t comply with the necessary requirements, or that have economical irregularities.
What is very unusual is that the decision taken against us is based on purely ideological motives given that we go against ‘politically correct’ dogmas on gender or against some beliefs defended by LGBTQ+ groups.
At the same time, some associations that are ideologically extreme in their orientation, such as Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB), the pro-abortion foundation ‘Doctor Morín’ that operates abortion clinics, or Òmnium Cultural, a body that promotes the independence of Catalunya – are still considered worthy for charitable status.
You mentioned the #HOBus campaign as the reason behind the decision. What was it about and why do you think it caused such turmoil?
In 2017 we started a campaign promoting #ElLibroProhibido (the Forbidden Book) and we made an online version of the book available for free to the public. It is a book that explains how gender ideology was introduced in 11 autonomous communities in Spain by law,
forcing all educational institutions to teach a unique model of sex education to every student at each level, without their parents knowing what it was about.
Thanks to our campaign, 300 thousand books were distributed in Spain.
The educational model imposed by these laws is based on a gender ideology that asks children to question their sexual identity. For example, it encourages children to wear clothing that is considered proper to the opposite sex. It also allows LGBTQ+ activists to visit classrooms and give conferences and workshops to minors. Libraries were legally obliged to make LGBTQ+ books available on their shelves, and schools were encouraged to celebrate Gay Pride Day and other similar events.
As a part of this campaign, we started to circulate buses in different cities promoting #ElLibroProhibido.
The theme we used was “boys have a penis, girls have a vulva,” explaining a biological reality that clashed with the new gender ideology.
It was this message that “was an offence to some,” that lost us our charitable status.
What is HazteOír? How is it linked to CitizenGo of which you are also the president?
HazteOír is an association that started in 2001 in Spain as a group of friends who wanted to create a platform through which citizens could let their voices be heard regarding the defence of life, educational freedom, the family as the basic cell of society and religious liberty. At first, it was only a simple network, with the goal of alerting society about pivotal issues. Then an association was formed and in 2013 we created CitizenGo to be able to give an impact not only in Spain but worldwide. Now we are an organization with more than 10 million followers across the globe.
In which countries is CitizenGo present?
It is present in almost all the world. Our campaigns are conducted in 12 languages. Spanish, English, French, Portugal, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Croatian, Dutch, Slovak and Hungarian. We are able to influence organizations and institutions in 50 different countries.
CitizenGo’s main centre is in Madrid and we have teams in 15 countries on four continents. We use a method of collaboration that is virtual, we hardly ever meet and run what could be called a worldwide virtual office. Our work is made possible with the help of our thousands of volunteers around the world.
How many campaigns have you conducted so far?
It is difficult to say because they depend on local initiatives in every country. Also, there are other organizations that want to start campaigns through our platform. If we take into consideration just the campaigns started by our leaders worldwide,
then we would have more than 300 campaigns a year.
CitizenGo recently conducted a campaign that was victorious over DC Comics who decided to cancel one of their comics that would have depicted Jesus Christ as a silly superhero. Could you tell us more about your most outstanding successes?
I would definitely mention the one about the release of Asia Bibi. Of course, it is not our sole victory, other people and organizations also heavily weighed in behind it. Unfortunately her situation is not going to be safe until she is able to finally leave Pakistan. CitizenGo has contributed to her liberation when – with the campaign that we initiated – brought her case to the attention of the world in a time when she was going to be left and forgotten about. We hope that she will be able to flee Pakistan soon.
There are many other successful campaigns, at times small ones, but they also give us the necessary strength to keep on fighting.
How can we, citizens who agree with your goals you and your activities, support you?
I am sure that in your countries there are a lot of people who want to defend life and effectively promote family and religious freedom. This willingness is the first step. We at CitizenGo offer an excellent tool for these people – an online petition method that proposes campaigns to influence political leaders in defence of life, family, human dignity and freedom. This way every single person can make his or her initiative a reality by using our platform. I would recommend them to look up our website www.citizengo.org and to sign the petitions they agree with.
Photo: Ignacio Arsuaga at the press conference about losing the charitable status of HazteOír (Flickr)