Wife of Spain’s PM sues TV host for suggesting she is transsexual

Begoña Gómez, wife of Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, has taken legal action against a right-wing TV programme that has peddled a conspiracy that she is transgender and involved in a Moroccan drug trafficking network.

Wife of Spain's PM sues TV host for suggesting she is transsexual
Begoña Gómez and her husband, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO/AFP

Spain’s First Lady Begoña Gómez is suing a Spanish TV talkshow host for claiming that she is transsexual and also that she is involved in a drug trafficking ring in Morocco.

Pilar Baselga, a well-known figure on the right-wing Distrito TV channel, made the claims on the network’s ‘Los Intocables‘ (The Untouchables) programme in November 2022, and it has since been revealed that Gómez made a legal complaint against her before a Spanish court. Baselga could now face possible charges for ‘insults and slander’.

Gómez’s legal representation has also filed a complaint against the programme’s director and presenter, Eurico Campano, and the programme itself.

Distrito TV has reported stories based on hoaxes and conspiracies before. This hoax, in which they refer to Gómez as ‘Begoño’, deliberately using the masculine ending of her name, has made waves in Spain’s conspiracy-laden right-wing social media networks.

Speaking in November, Baselga stated: “Our dear first lady, well second lady because the first is the Queen… I dare say that there are suspicions that in the beginning it was ‘Begoño’. This wife of the President comes from a family with a tradition of gay saunas, it has to be said.”

Criticising Gómez’s position at the prestigious Universidad Complutense de Madrid, which Baselga implied she was given through her husband, Baselga then went on to make some startling claims about Gómez’s supposed role in a Moroccan drug smuggling gang: “Then she started working for a business institute with an Africa programme… and they have involved her in a drug trafficking issue in Morocco.”

“And apparently,” Baselga added, “the Moroccan secret service has evidence that Begoña Gómez is involved… would be involved in drug trafficking issues in Morocco,” according to Spanish daily El Diario.

Campano has since described Baselga’s statements as “absolutely regrettable” and Distrito TV requested that she make a video to clarify her remarks.

She responded with a statement that it had been “a mistake on my part to interpret information that is being spread on various Spanish social media networks.” She also stated that her words were “misinterpreted” and that “it has never been my intention to offend anyone, as transsexuality has been present in my family circle for almost 20 years.

Baselga even claimed that the response to her comments was transphobic because “it considers transsexuality a negative thing.”

These evasive apologies, which were no doubt made in an effort to avoid the legal action, made no mention of the claim about Moroccan drug smuggling.

Though it seems the original video has been deleted by Distrito TV, the following tweet thread compares at length what was said in the original broadcast and the apologies made a few days later.

Gómez’s legal representation is requesting a conciliatory meeting with Baselga and Campano, who are asked to “agree to acknowledge clearly and forcefully the spurious nature of their statements, and the falsehood of these messages aimed solely at harming” not only Gómez but Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez himself.

Gómez’s lawyers demand that the two conspiracists  make an apology “publicly and prominently using the same media in which the statements were made, or if there is not, another of a similar nature.”

Gómez’s team is also claiming compensation of €100,000.

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Despite divisions, Spain’s hard-left unites for vote

Spain's hard-left decided Friday to join forces on a single political platform for the July 23 elections, in a boost for Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's reelection hopes.

Despite divisions, Spain's hard-left unites for vote

The decision was announced shortly before a midnight deadline for parties to register their intention to run as part of a coalition, although they are not required to provide any individual names until June 19.

The snap election was called by Sanchez on May 29, a day after his Socialists and their hard-left coalition partner Podemos suffered a drubbing in local and regional elections.

Since then, Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz has been pushing to rally the hard-left behind her platform Sumar (“Unite”).

READ ALSO: Collapse of Spain’s far-left complicates vote for Sánchez

After days of difficult negotiations, Podemos, which grew out of the anti-austerity “Indignados” protest movement, finally agreed to join the coalition, which includes more than a dozen political groupings.

“This is the broadest agreement ever reached in Spanish democratic history between progressive and ecological forces,” said a statement from Sumar Friday night.

Podemos, once Spain’s third largest political force in 2015, entered a coalition government with the Socialists in 2020.

But since then, the party’s appeal has been much diminished by a string of disputes and controversies, and its support collapsed during the May 28 local and regional elections.

READ ALSO: Who won where in Spain’s regional elections?

From Sumar’s perspective, one of the main sticking points in the talks with Podemos had been the role of Equality Minister Irene Montero, the party’s best-known figure.

Some Diaz allies did not want her on the list, and in the end, she was left out.

An outspoken hardliner who has often courted controversy, Montero has faced bitter criticism in recent months, notably over her flagship rape law that paradoxically let some offenders reduce their sentences.

READ ALSO: Spain sees no risk to EU presidency from July snap election

Earlier Friday, Podemos leader Ione Belarra called for the veto on Montero to be lifted, describing it as “not only an injustice but also a serious political error”.

Polls have long tipped the right-wing Popular Party to win next month’s vote, although, without a majority, it would be forced to rely on the far-right Vox to govern.

But the coming together of Spain’s hard-left offers Sanchez’s Socialists the hope of pulling together a minority government that could rule with the backing of several regional parties.

READ ALSO: A foreigner’s guide to understanding Spanish politics in five minutes