The cancellation of a charity disco that is held every Christmas Eve in Orihuela, has raised fears that LGTBI phobia by the municipal council was behind the decision.

The event has been organised by Agustín Gómez Cascales, a nationally renowned DJ from Orihuela. Although he now operates successfully out of Madrid, he was also the first town crier in the history of the LGTBIQ+ Pride city.

Cascales has been organising the charity party, called ‘NocheBling’ on Christmas Eve for five years, always with the support of the Department of Culture, managed during that time by Ciudadanos. The event took place in the multipurpose cultural centre, La Lonja, with all monies raised on the night for charities, either pancreatic cancer research, or to Asoka, an Orihuela animal shelter.

This year, with the change of Orihuela government, the Department of Culture is now being run by Vox, in a coalition government with the Partido Popular.  Result: permission to hold the party has been withdrawn, even though the council initially said yes.

The event was then relocated to La Glorieta, but just three weeks ago Cascales received a call telling him that event too was cancelled, due to “bureaucratic problems.”

Shortly after the disco was moved from La Lonja another charitable event was installed in the building. It was scheduled to take place on 23 December, aimed at raising funds for the local Moors and Christians Association, a group that holds an alarming amount of influence within the Orihuela government.

It’s current President has recently been employed as a council advisor on a salary of 40k per annum, his daughter is the councillor of fiestas, the association treasurer, Rubén Rodríguez Ferrández, was also employed by the council just 3 months ago, with a gross remuneration of 50,000 euros, and as we all know, the mayor, Pepe Vegara, was the Association President prior to the current incumbent.

However, that charitable event has also been cancelled following the issue of a press release stating that the La Lonja building does not have a license to hold parties or similar events.

The Councilor for Urban Planning, Matías Ruiz, said that the La Lonja de Orihuela building is intended for use exclusively as auditorium or conservatory for cultural activities, and that following a review of public buildings it has been found that it does not have a license to hold parties or similar events.

Ruiz said that “one of my obligations is to ensure compliance with the Law that entails guaranteeing the physical integrity of people, and that is especially the case in public buildings.” He that La Lonja may only be used as a conservatory, auditorium or activities of a cultural nature.

But Cascales is convinced that the timing of the council announcement is not coincidental as it occurs right in the midst of the controversy over the cancellation of the traditional “Bling Night!” that has been traditionally celebrated in the La Lonja building for five years.

Following comments on Facebook it became more evident that Cascales and his fellow organisers feel that they are facing a clear case of LGTBIphobia on the part of Vox and now, even the Valencian Observatory against LGTBIphobia has asked the mayor, José Vegara, for an explanation to clarify “if there is a discriminatory bias in the decision because its organiser is a recognised LGTBI activist. ”

For the moment, however, both the mayor and the Councillor for culture, Gonzalo D. Montoya, are remaining silent on the matter.

The only reality is that the popular Christmas Eve party, celebrated as both a diversity and a solidarity event has been cancelled.