BARCELONA, July 5 (Reuters) - People took to the streets of Spain's biggest cities on Monday evening to express their anger at the death of a man in a suspected homophobic attack at the weekend.
Crowds filled a central Madrid square and activists marched down a major street in Barcelona, chanting slogans and waving placards and rainbow-coloured flags.
"The response to the wave of LGBT-phobic hatred that ended the life of Samuel in A Coruna is overwhelming," the left-wing Podemos party that governs in coalition with the ruling Socialists wrote on Twitter.
The 24-year-old nursing assistant was beaten near a nightclub in the early hours of Saturday in the town of A Coruna, northern Spain, by several assailants including one who shouted a common pejorative description of a homosexual, state broadcaster RTVE reported. He later died in hospital.
Jose Minones, a local government representative in the region where A Coruna is located, tweeted that the police were working to find out what happened and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Local media quoted him as saying the investigation would show whether or not the attack was motivated by homophobia.
Interior Ministry data shows 278 hate crimes related to sexual orientation or gender identity were reported in Spain in 2019, an 8.6% increase on the previous year. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights warns only a fraction of hate crimes are reported to the police.
In central Barcelona, 21 year-old Sergio Cuevas said: "I think this crime happened because homophobia kills."
(Reporting by Nacho Doce, writing by Isla Binnie Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)