In a first for Spain, the autonomous community of Catalonia has passed a law which will punish attacks against the LGBT community with fines of up to €14,000 (£11,000).
According to The Local, the divisive vote on Thursday received the backing of left-wing groups but was opposed by Catalan nationalists and conservatives.
Regional representatives of Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) claimed the bill would place emphasis on “positive discrimination,” and opposed a clause which states a person accused of homophobia will have to prove their innocence.
PP Spokesperson Dolors López said: “Why isn’t there an anti-discrimination law for immigrants or ethnic minorities?
“You can’t come up with a specific law for every group suffering discrimination.
“This law grants the LGBT collective an extraordinary system of protection that other groups don’t enjoy.”
However, The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) says Catalonia has now set a worldwide precedent in the fight against homophobia.
ERC politician Anna Simó said: “Without fines, this law would be a mere statement of intent. It’s meant to act as deterrent.”
David Company of Initiative for Catalonia Greens also argued that the law isn’t “a privilege for gays, it reinforces the rights of minorities”.
In July, it was reported the the majority of the hate crime in Spain in 2014 had been motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity.
Anti-LGBT crime had the highest figure for hate crime last year, with 452 identified cases.
Spain is known as one of the more LGBT-friendly countries in Europe, with the legalisation of same-sex marriage being almost a decade old.