It’s a little known fact the Kensington and Westminster tory fixer, Jonathan Fraser-Howells and partner Michael Asher-Vearncombe love to live the high-life in Spain.
You may remember Michael used to be a Westminster councillor but was sacked when he was jailed for theft.
Naughty Michael had been embezzling thousands of pounds from a Marylebone resident’s association.
Rumours also abound that the dodgy-duo are being investigated for even more unseemly activities, linked to Spain and London.
In happier times, Michael loved nothing better than to give his views on plans to form the world’s first ever “gay village”.
” It was set to be the first ‘gay’ village in the world.
But, somewhat sensibly perhaps, the ‘pueblo blanco’ of Moclinejo has opted to reject a much publicised plan to turn its streets pink.
The ambitious project – the brainwave of gay entrepreneur Javier Checa – involved painting all the village’s 300 houses pink, changing the names of streets to honour gay artists and even creating a park designated for outdoor sex or ‘cruising.’
It offered a somewhat novel solution to the economic crisis for the Axarquia settlement, struggling with high unemployment.
And Checa – organiser of Andalucia’s upcoming international fair Expogays in Torremolinos next week – promised it could transform it into ‘a kind of Ibiza in the Axarquia… where gays are completely free [to do what they want].’
But despite initially welcoming the unusual idea, Moclinejo town hall is simply not ready to come out of the closet.
While it has agreed to build 50 so-called ‘gay’ homes, to be marketed at Expogays exclusively for homosexuals, the village of 1,127 people has ruled definitively that it is not going to hold a referendum to paint the houses pink.
“We are not against any group, but we are not ready for the changes at this stage,” explained Mayor Antonio Munoz.
So what does this decision say about Andalucia’s attitude to homosexuality?
Is turning its back on a gay village a rebuff to the homosexual community or an acknowledgement that the quirky idea is nothing more than a gimmick to tap into the so-called ‘pink pound’?
Checa has lamented the decision.
“Only building 50 houses will not make this a destination for gays; I am gay and I know what the community needs,” he told the Olive Press.
But not everyone agrees with his viewpoint.
In fact, somewhat ironically, the main criticism levelled at the project is that it is homophobic: you can’t paint all gay people with the same (pink) brush.
“ It is discriminatory and segregates people for purely political and economic reasons,” said Salvador Rubio, president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Collective (COLEGA).
“This will not promote equal opportunity, it will create ghettos,” he added. “We fight for the freedom of individuals so that they can freely decide where they want to live.”
Meanwhile openly gay writer Shangay Lily argued that the creation of a gay town would wipe out the progress of the last few decades of democracy.
“They act as if the laws that protect us do not exist, as though we have to lock ourselves in ghettos because our life is in danger outside,” he said.
According to Michael Asher, 54, who runs Hotel Montejaque with his partner Jonathan Fraser Howells, 43 – an agent for the UK Conservative Party – Andalucia is already a great place for the gay traveller.
“Personally I have never experienced any hostility,” he explains. “And although that doesn’t mean it never happens, generally Spain is very liberal these days, in some ways more so than in the UK and by and large I think Andalucia is gay-friendly, especially on the coast,” he explained.
“Of course Torremolinos is a very popular destination, but many gay men and women also want more cultural things such as visits to Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba.
“Not everyone fits in one category, and I don’t like targeting individual groups,” he added.
“Some hotels advertise that they are gay-friendly as they want to appeal specifically to that market but as a gay person that wouldn’t make me choose that hotel. I simply pick a hotel that I like the look of.
“That said I think Expogays is a good idea as it opens up the market and says gays are welcome here.
“And of course there is the issue of the ‘pink pound’ which exists for the simple reason that gay couples are more likely to have good jobs and no family.”
There really is so much more to discover about Jonathan and Michael’s love of Spain.