LGBT history in Spain

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This is a list of notable events in the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights that took place in Spain.

prior to 1600[edit]

6th century[edit]

  • 589 – The Visigothic kingdom in Spain, is converted from Arianism to Catholicism. This conversion leads to a revision of the law to conform to those of Catholic countries. These revisions include provisions for the persecution of gays and Jews.[1]

7th Century[edit]

  • 693 – In Iberia, Visigothic ruler Egica of Hispania and Septimania, demanded that a Church council confront the occurrence of homosexuality in the Kingdom. The Sixteenth Council of Toledo issued a statement in response, which was adopted by Egica, stating that homosexual acts be punished by castration, exclusion from Communion, hair shearing, one hundred stripes of the lash, and banishment into exile.[2]

15th century[edit]

  • 1483 – The Spanish Inquisition begins. Sodomites were stoned, castrated, and burned. Between 1540 and 1700, more than 1,600 people were prosecuted for sodomy.[2]

17th century[edit]

No known information.

18th century[edit]

No known information.

19th century[edit]

The turning point of this trend was marked by the Enlightenment movement, during which individual freedoms began to be recognized and concluded with the elimination of the “crime of sodomy” from the Spanish Criminal Code in 1822.[3]

20th century[edit]

  • 1901 - The first same-sex marriage in Spain in Spain took place between two women, Marcela Gracia Ibeas and Elisa Sanchez Loriga, when Elisa dressed as a man. The wedding was performed, and while the priest who blessed the marriage later denounced it when made aware of the deception, the certification of the marriage was never annulled.

Franco era[edit]

Homosexuality was highly illegal under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, with laws against homosexual activity vigorously enforced and homosexual people being imprisoned in large numbers. The 1954 reform of the 1933 "Ley de vagos y maleantes" ("Vagrancy Act")[4] declared homosexuality illegal, equating it with procuring. 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 gay, lesbian and transgender people was clearly directed at their sexual mores, and homosexuals (mostly males) were sent to special prisons called "galerías de invertidos" ("galleries of deviants"). This was a 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.[5]

However, in the 1960s clandestine gay scenes began to emerge in Spain. Further establishments would start to appear in Barcelona, an especially tolerant city under Franco's regime, and in the countercultural centers of Ibiza and Sitges (a town in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, that remains a highly popular gay tourist destination). 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.


  • 1979 - Spain decriminalizes homosexuality as part of several post-Franco reforms; the Madrid Gay Pride Parade, known as "Orgullo Gay", is first held in June that year.[6]
  • 1998 - Zero magazine is first published.
  • 1999 - Miquel Iceta of PSC becomes the first openly LGBT member of a Regional Parliament in Spain (that of Catalonia).

21st century[edit]

  • 2000 - Jerónimo Saavedra, while a member of the Cortes Generales from Gran Canaria, becomes the first parliamentarian to come out as gay.[7]
  • 2001 - The Spanish Parliament declares it will clear Franco era criminal records for gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals.[8]
  • 2003 - Axel Hotel, the first "heterofriendly" "gay hotel" chain opens its first location in Gaixample, Barcelona.


  • 2005 - Same-sex marriage is legalized (with joint adoption).
  • 2007 - Europride, the European Pride Parade, took place in Madrid. About 2.5 million people attended more than 300 events over a week in the Spanish capital to celebrate Spain as the country with the most developed LGBT rights in the world. Independent media estimated that more than 200,000 visitors came from foreign countries to join in the festivities. Madrid gay district Chueca, the biggest gay district in Europe, was the centre of the celebrations. The event was supported by the city, regional and national government and private sector which also ensured that the event was financially successful. Barcelona, Valencia and Seville hold also local Pride Parades. The same year, Jerónimo Saavedra becomes the first openly gay mayor of any provincial capital in Spain (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria). The Spanish Parliament also passes a law allowing victims of the Franco regime to apply for reparations, including LGBT individuals who were arrested under the "Vagrancy Act".[9]
  • 2008 - Barcelona hosted the Eurogames.
  • 2009 - Zero ends publication due to financial difficulties.
  • 2012 - Spain's highest court upheld the country's gay marriage law on November 6, 2012, rejecting an appeal lodged by the ruling People's Party and confirming the legality of same-sex unions.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Visigothic Code 3.5.5, 3.5.6; "The doctrine of the orthodox faith requires us to place our censure upon vicious practices, and to restrain those who are addicted to carnal offences. For we counsel well for the benefit of our people and our country, when we take measures to utterly extirpate the crimes of wicked men, and put an end to the evil deeds of vice. For this reason we shall attempt to abolish the horrible crime of sodomy, which is as contrary to Divine precept as it is to chastity. And although the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and the censure of earthly laws, alike, prohibit offences of this kind, it is nevertheless necessary to condemn them by a new decree; lest if timely correction be deferred, still greater vices may arise. Therefore, we establish by this law, that if any man whosoever, of any age, or race, whether he belongs to the clergy, or to the laity, should be convicted, by competent evidence, of the commission of the crime of sodomy, he shall, by order of the king, or of any judge, not only suffer emasculation, but also the penalty prescribed by ecclesiastical decree for such offences, and promulgated in the third year of our reign."
  2. ^ a b (Fone, 2000)
  3. ^ "» A Brief History of Homosexuality and LGBTQ rights in Spain Envisioning Spain's Border". Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  4. ^ "La junta de protección a la infancia de Barcelona: Aproximación histórica y guía de su archivo" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  5. ^ Rick Nolton. "Represión homosexual en el franquismo". Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Where is it illegal to be gay?". BBC News. Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  7. ^ Pastor, Enric (December 20, 2000), "El ex ministro Saavedra cree que "ocultar la homosexualidad lleva al psicoanalista"", El Mundo (in Spanish), retrieved 2007-10-25
  8. ^ Tremlett, Giles (2001-12-13). "Gays persecuted by Franco lose criminal status at last". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  9. ^ Cué, Carlos E. (2007-10-31). "La ley de memoria se aprueba entre aplausos de invitados antifranquistas". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  10. ^ Reinlein, Iciar; Sarah Morris (November 6, 2012). "Same-sex marriage upheld by Spain's highest court". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 15, 2012.