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LGBT Life & Retirement in Spain
LGBT Life & Retirement in Spain
LGBT rights in Spain
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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights in Spain have undergone several significant changes in recent years. Among ancient Romans in Spain, sexual interaction between men was viewed as commonplace, and marriages between men occurred during the early Roman Empire, but a law against homosexuality was promulgated by Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans, and Roman moral norms underwent significant changes leading up to the 4th century. The influence of Christianity eventually characterized sexuality as an act whose only goal was procreation, with homosexuality being viewed as one of many sexual activities that were sinful and against God‘s will. Laws against sodomy were later established during the legislative period. They were first repealed from the Spanish Code in 1822, but changed again along with societal attitudes towards homosexuality during the Spanish Civil War and Francisco Franco‘s regime.
Throughout the late-20th century, the rights of the LGBT community received more awareness and same-sex sexual activity became legal once again in 1979 with an equal age of consent to heterosexual intercourse. Today, Spain has been recognized for providing one of the highest degrees of liberty in the world to its LGBT citizens. After recognizing unregistered cohabitation between same-sex couples countrywide and registered partnerships in certain cities and communities since 1994 and 1997, Spain legalized both same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2005. Transgender individuals are allowed to change their legal gender without the need for sex reassignment surgery or sterilization. Discrimination in employment regarding sexual orientation has been banned nationwide since 1995. LGBT people are allowed to openly serve in the military and MSMs have been allowed to donate blood since 2005.
Spain has been recognized as one of the most culturally liberal and LGBT-friendly countries in the world and the LGBT culture has had a significant role in Spanish literature, music, cinema, and other forms of entertainment as well as social issues and politics. Public opinion on homosexuality is noted by pollsters as being overwhelmingly positive, with a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 indicating that more than 88 percent of Spanish citizens accepted homosexuality, making it the most LGBT-friendly of the 39 countries polled. LGBT visibility has also increased in several layers of society such as the Guardia Civil, army, judicial, and clergy. However, in other areas such as sports, the LGBT community remains marginalized. Spanish film directors such as Pedro Almodóvar have increased awareness regarding LGBT tolerance in Spain among international audiences. In 2007, Madrid hosted the annual Europride celebration and hosted WorldPride in 2017. The cities of Madrid and Barcelona also have a reputation as two of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the world. Gran Canaria is also known worldwide as an LGBT tourist destination.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
Same-sex sexual acts were lawful in Spain from 1822 to 1954, with the exception of the offence of “unusual or outrageous indecent acts with same-sex persons” between the years 1928 and 1932. However, some homosexuals were arrested in the days of the Second Spanish Republic under the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes (“Vagrants and Common Delinquents Law”). Homosexual acts were made unlawful during Francisco Franco‘s time in power, first by an amendment to the aforementioned law in 1954, and later by the Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social (“Law on Danger and Social Rehabilitation”) in 1970. In 1979, the Adolfo Suárez Government reversed the prohibition of homosexual acts.
A new penal code was introduced in Spain in 1995 which specified an age of consent of 12 for all sexual acts, but this was raised to 13 in 1999 and to 16 in 2015.
Recognition of same-sex relationshipsGay Pride 2005 celebrating the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Spain
Main article: Same-sex marriage in Spain
In 1994, the Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos was passed, giving same-sex couples some recognition rights. Registries for same-sex couples were created in all of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities: Catalonia (1998), Aragon (1999), Navarre (2000), Castile-La Mancha (2000), Valencia (2001), the Balearic Islands (2001), Madrid (2001), Asturias (2002), Andalusia (2002), Castile and León (2002), Extremadura (2003), the Basque Country (2003), the Canary Islands (2003), Cantabria (2005), Galicia (2008), La Rioja (2010) and Murcia (2018), and in both autonomous cities; Ceuta (1998) and Melilla (2008). These registries grant unmarried couples some benefits, but the effect is mainly symbolic.
Same-sex marriage and adoption were legalised by the Cortes Generales under the administration of Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2005.
Soon after the same-sex marriage bill became law, a member of the Guardia Civil, a military-police force, married his lifelong partner, prompting the organisation to allow same-sex partners to cohabitate in the barracks, the first police force in Europe to accommodate a same-sex partner in a military installation.
Adoption and parenting
Adoption by same-sex couples has been legal nationwide in Spain since July 2005. Some of Spain’s autonomous communities had already legalised such adoptions beforehand, notably Navarre in 2000, the Basque Country in 2003, Aragon in 2004, Catalonia in 2005 and Cantabria in 2005. Furthermore, in Asturias, Andalusia and Extremadura, same-sex couples could jointly begin procedures to temporarily or permanently take children in care.
Since 2015, married lesbian couples can register both their names on their child(ren)’s certificates. This does not apply to cohabiting couples or couples in de facto unions, where the non-biological mother must normally go through an adoption process to be legally recognized as the child’s mother.
Lesbian couples and single women may access in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and assisted reproductive treatments. Prior to 2019, this was mostly in the private sector, where such treatments were much more expensive (around 7,500 euros for IVF). In 2018, following reports that Spain had one of the lowest birth rates in Europe (with reportedly more deaths than births in 2017), measures extending free reproductive treatments for lesbians and single women to public hospitals were announced. The measures took effect in January 2019. Surrogacy is prohibited in Spain regardless of sexual orientation, though surrogacy arrangements undertaken overseas are usually recognized.
Discrimination protectionsLaws on LGBT discrimination in employment, by autonomous community
Ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation only, either through federal or local law
Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has been illegal in the country since 1995. However, employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity is not banned nationwide. The first autonomous community to ban such discrimination was Navarre in 2009. The Basque Country followed suit in 2012. In 2014, Andalusia, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, and Galicia also passed bills banning discrimination. Extremadura did so in 2015. In 2016, Madrid, Murcia, and the Balearic Islands all passed laws protecting transgender people from discrimination. Valencia approved an anti-discrimination bill in April 2017, while Aragon did so in April 2018 (taking effect in January 2019).
Article 4(2) of the Workers’ Statute (Spanish: Estatuto de los trabajadores)[a] reads as follows:
In labour relations, workers have the right: … not to be directly or indirectly discriminated in employment, or, once employed, discriminated by reason of sex, civil status, age within the limits set forth by this Law, racial or ethnic origin, social status, religion or convictions, political ideas, sexual orientation, membership or non-membership in a union, or for reasons of language within the Spanish State.
Discrimination in the provisions of goods and services based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not banned nationwide either. The aforementioned autonomous communities all ban such discrimination within their anti-discrimination laws. Discrimination in health services and education based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been banned in Spain since 2011 and 2013, respectively.
Ten autonomous communities also ban discrimination based on sex characteristics, thereby protecting intersex people from discrimination. These autonomous communities are Galicia (2014), Catalonia (2014), Extremadura (2015), the Balearic Islands (2016), Madrid (2016), Murcia (2016), Valencia (2017), Navarre (2017), Andalusia (2018), and Aragon (2019).
In 2017, a comprehensive bill to forbid discrimination against LGBTI people throughout Spain in all areas, including employment, the provision of goods and services, etc. was introduced to the Cortes Generales. The legislation has stalled.
Bias-motivated speech and violence
Hate speech on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity has been banned since 1995. Additionally, under the country’s hate crime law, crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, amongst other categories, result in additional legal penalties.
The Secretary of State for Security reported that instances of violence against LGBT people decreased 4% in 2018. This contrasted with figures from other sources. The Observatorio Madrileño reported a 7% increase in anti-LGBT violence in Madrid, while the Observatory Against Homophobia of Catalonia (Observatori contra l’Homofòbia) reported a 30% increase in the first few months of 2019.
Since January 2019, teachers and students in Madrid are obliged to report cases of bullying, including against LGBT students.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people may serve openly in the Spanish Armed Forces.
Transgender and intersex rightsCommemorative plaque in Madrid to La Veneno, a transgender women visible on Spanish television in the 90s.
In November 2006, the Zapatero Government passed a law that allows transgender people to register under their preferred sex in public documents such as birth certificates, identity cards and passports without undergoing prior surgical change. The law came into effect on 17 March 2007. In July 2019, the Constitutional Court of Spain declared that prohibiting transgender minors from accessing legal gender changes is unconstitutional. The court ruled that transgender minors who are “mature enough” may register their new sex on their identity cards, and struck down the article of the 2007 legislation that limited this possibility only to those over 18. The first minor to change his legal gender did so in December 2019.
Intersex infants in Spain may undergo medical interventions to have their sex characteristics altered. Human rights groups consider these surgeries unnecessary and, they argue, should only be performed if the applicant consents to the operation (i.e. has reached the age of 18). Andalusia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Extremadura, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre, and Valencia ban the use of medical interventions on intersex children.
In April 2019, the Catalan Department of Labor, Social Affairs and Families announced that official documents in Catalonia would include the option “non-binary” alongside male and female.
Gay and bisexual men are allowed to donate blood in Spain. For anyone regardless of sexual orientation, the deferral period is six months following the last sexual encounter.
The autonomous community of Madrid approved a conversion therapy ban in July 2016. The ban went into effect on 1 January 2017, and applies to medical, psychiatric, psychological and religious groups. In August 2016, an LGBT advocacy group brought charges under the new law against a Madrid woman who offered conversion therapy. In September 2019, the woman was fined 20,000 euros.
Murcia approved a conversion therapy ban in May 2016, which came into effect on 1 June 2016. Unlike the other bans, the Murcia ban only applies to health professionals.
Valencia banned the use of conversion therapies in April 2017. Andalusia followed suit in December 2017, with the law coming into force on 4 February 2018. In January 2019, Aragon made it an offense to promote and/or perform conversion therapy.
In April 2019, the Government of the Community of Madrid announced it was investigating the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alcalá de Henares for violating conversion therapy laws. This followed reports that a journalist named Ángel Villascusa posed as a gay man and attended a counselling service provided by the diocese. Villascusa alleged the bishop was running illegal conversion therapy sessions. The bishop was defended by the Catholic Church in Spain. Minister of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare María Luisa Carcedo called for a nationwide ban on conversion therapy. She said, “they [the Church] are breaking the law therefore, in the first instance, these courses have to be completely abolished. I thought that, in Spain, accepting the various sexual orientations was assumed in all areas, but unfortunately we see that there are still pockets where people are told what their sexual orientation should be”.
LGBT rights movement in SpainEuropride 2007 in MadridMadrid Pride 2015Gay Pride in Valencia, 2019
The first gay organisation in Spain was the Spanish Homosexual Liberation Movement (MELH, Movimiento Español de Liberación Homosexual, Moviment Espanyol d’Alliberament Homosexual), which was founded in 1970 in Barcelona. The group also established centers in Madrid and Bilbao. It disbanded in 1973 because of police pressure, but following Franco’s death, several members of the group formed the Front d’Alliberament Gai de Catalunya (FAGC) in 1975 to continue campaigning for LGBT rights. Several more groups were established, including the Euskal Herriko Gay-Les Askapen Mugimendua in the Basque Country, the Frente Homosexual de Acción Revolucionaria in Madrid, and the Coordinadora de Frentes de Liberación Homosexual de Estado Español (COFLHEE), all three in 1977. On 28 June 1977, the FAGC organised the first gay demonstration in Spain in the city of Barcelona with about 4,000 to 5,000 participants. Police repressed the event, with several arrests and injuries. Exactly one year later, the Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla held a demonstration in Madrid with about 10,000 people. Disagreement within these groups caused many to shut down; many members advocated a more “radical” movement with public demonstrations and many felt the organizations had failed to properly address or campaign for the rights of lesbians and bisexuals. LGBT groups saw an important landmark moment in 1979 with the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
During the 1980s, several LGBT groups and magazines were launched in various cities. The Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB), today Spain’s largest LGBT organization, was founded in 1992 from members of the then-former COFLHEE. The groups campaign for legal rights for same-sex couples and LGBT people, societal acceptance, operate counseling centers about topics such as coming out, sex, relationships or health issues, and organize various events and festivals. Several gay villages exist in Spain, including Chueca in Madrid, “Gaixample” in Barcelona, Ibiza, Maspalomas in Gran Canaria, and Sitges.
Nowadays, numerous pride parades and other LGBT festivals are held throughout Spain, including Madrid Pride, whose 2019 edition had 400,000 participants according to police, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Seville, Bilbao, A Coruña, Valencia, Zaragoza, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Cartagena, Valladolid, Benidorm, Ibiza, Sitges, Maspalomas, Torremolinos, and many more.
Homosexuality and bisexuality today are greatly accepted all around the country and intensely in larger and medium cities. That being said, a certain level of discrimination can still be encountered in small villages and among some parts of society. A Eurobarometer survey published December 2006 showed that 66 percent of Spanish people surveyed supported same-sex marriage and 43 percent supported same-sex couples’ right to adopt (EU-wide averages were 44 percent and 33 percent, respectively).
On 4 March 2013, Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said that due to same-sex marriages the survival of the human species is not guaranteed. He also stated that same-sex marriages should not have the same protection under the law as opposite-sex ones, eight years after same-sex marriage was legalized.
Among the countries studied by the Pew Research Center in 2013, Spain was rated first in acceptance of homosexuality, with 88% of Spaniards believing that homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 11% who disagreed.
In May 2015, PlanetRomeo, an LGBT social network, published its first Gay Happiness Index (GHI). Gay men from over 120 countries were asked about how they feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how do they experience the way they are treated by other people and how satisfied are they with their lives. Spain was ranked 13th with a GHI score of 68.
Buzzfeed conducted a poll in December 2016 across several countries on the acceptance of transgender individuals. Spain ranked the most accepting in most categories, with 87% of those polled believing transgender people should be protected from discrimination, and only 8% believing there is something mentally or physically wrong with them. In addition, 77% believed transgender people should be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity rather than being forced to use the one of their birth-assigned gender, with over 50% strongly agreeing with this.
The 2015 Eurobarometer found that 84% of Spaniards thought that same-sex marriage should be allowed throughout Europe, 10% were against. The 2019 Eurobarometer showed that 91% of Spaniards believed gay and bisexual people should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people, and 86% supported same-sex marriage.
LGBT cultureLiteratureJacinto Benavente, Nobel Prize in LiteratureFederico García Lorca in 1932
At the beginning of the 20th century, Spanish authors, like Jacinto Benavente, Pedro de Répide and Antonio de Hoyos y Vinent, had to choose between ignoring the subject of homosexuality or representing it negatively. The only authors publishing literature with LGBT content were foreigners: Augusto d’Halmar from Chile published Pasión y muerte del cura Deusto, Alfonso Hernández Catá from Cuba published El ángel de Sodoma, and Alberto Nin Frías from Uruguay published La novela del renacimiento y otros relatos, La fuente envenenada, Marcos, amador de la belleza, Alexis o el significado del temperamento Urano and, in 1933, Homosexualismo creador, the first essay representing homosexuality in a positive light.
Others, such as the authors of the Generation of ’27, took refuge in poetry. The gay and bisexual poets of this literary movement were amongst the most influential in Spanish literature: Federico García Lorca, Emilio Prados, Luis Cernuda, Vicente Aleixandre and Manuel Altolaguirre. These poets were highly influenced by the great gay authors of the rest of Europe, such as Oscar Wilde, André Gide, mainly his Corydon, and Marcel Proust. In 1930, Emilio García Gómez also published his Poemas arabigoandaluces, which included the pederastic poets of Al-Andalus. Around the mid-1930s, there was a slight liberalisation which ended with the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. After the Civil War, with García Lorca assassinated and the majority of gay and bisexual poets in exile, gay culture retired anew to the cryptic poetry of Vicente Aleixandre, who never admitted his homosexuality publicly. Other gay poets of this period are Francisco Brines, Leopoldo María Panero, Juan Gil-Albert and Jaime Gil de Biedma and, in Córdoba, Vicente Núñez, Pablo García Baena and Juan Bernier, belonging to the Cántico group.
Authors that appear after the Spanish Transition include Juan Goytisolo, Luis Antonio de Villena, Antonio Gala, Terenci Moix, Álvaro Pombo, Vicente Molina Foix, Antonio Roig, Biel Mesquida, Leopoldo Alas, Vicente García Cervera, Carlos Sanrune, Jaume Cela, Eduardo Mendicutti, Miguel Martín, Lluis Fernández, Víctor Monserrat, Alberto Cardín, Mariano García Torres, Agustín Gómez-Arcos, Óscar Esquivias, Luisgé Martín and Iñaki Echarte.
No lesbian authors in Spain publicly acknowledged their homosexuality until the 1990s. Gloria Fuertes never wanted her sexual orientation to be public. The first lesbian author to be openly gay was Andrea Luca. Other authors who have treated love between women in their books include Ana María Moix, Ana Rosetti, Esther Tusquets, Carmen Riera, Elena Fortún, Isabel Franc and Lucía Etxebarría, whose novel Beatriz y los cuerpos celestes won the Nadal Prize in 1998.
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