Gay Rights in Spain

Gay Rights Spain

Repression under Franco’s regime

gay rights spainHomosexuality was highly illegal under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, with laws against homosexual activity vigorously enforced and gays being imprisoned in large numbers. The 1954 reform of the 1933 “Ley de vagos y maleantes” (“Vagrancy Act) [5] declared homosexuality illegal, equating it with proxenetism. The text of the law declares that the measures in it “are not proper punishments, but mere security measures, set with a doubly preventive end, with the purpose of collective guarantee and the aspiration of correcting those subjects fallen to the lowest levels of morality. This law is not intended to punish, but to correct and reform”. However, the way the law was applied was clearly punitive and arbitrary: police would often use the Vagrancy laws against suspected political dissenters, using their homosexuality as a way to go around the judicial guarantees. The law was repealed in 1979.

However, in other cases the harassment of gays, lesbian and transsexuals was clearly directed at their sexual mores, and homosexuals (mostly males) were sent to special prisons called “galerías de invertidos” (“deviant galleries”). This was common practice until 1975, when Franco’s regime gave way to the current constitutional democracy, but in the early 70s gay prisoners were overlooked by political activism in favour of more “traditional” political dissenters. Some gay activists deplore the fact that, even today, reparations have not been made.

However, in the 1960s clandestine gay scenes began to emerge in the first upcomming holidaydestinations like Torremolinos, Ibiza and Sitges. Now a days they are still the biggest atractions for gays worldwide.

Attitudes in greater Spain began to change with the return to democracy after Franco’s death through a cultural movement known as La movida. This movement, along with growth of the gay rights movement in the rest of Europe and the Western world was a large factor in making Spain today one of Europe’s most socially tolerant people.


Gay Rights in Spain: Acceptance Today
Homosexuality and bisexuality today are greatly accepted, especially in the larger cities, such as: Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao, Málaga, Zaragoza, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and other smaller cities that have a large number of tourist or foreign population, like Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Cádiz. Still in small villages and among some parts of society, there is still a certain level of discrimination. A Eurobarometer survey published on December 2006 showed that 56% of Spaniards surveyed support same-sex marriage and 43% recognise same-sex couple’s right to adopt (EU-wide average 44% and 33%).

Gay marriage in Spain

Same-gender marriage and adoption were legalized by the Spanish Legislature under the administration of socialist prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in 2005. As of 2006, the Spanish Administration is seeking to negotiate foreign adoption with other countries. In November 2006 Zapatero’s government has passed a law that allows transgendered persons to register under their preferred sex in public documents without undergoing prior surgical change. The law on assisted reproduction has been amended in 2006: children born within a lesbian marriage for in vitro fertilisation treatment can be legally recognized by the non-biological mother.