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social sciences

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Hence, there is a tradition in the Spanish gay communities of self-identified homosexuals exclusively taking the passive role in intercourse and exhibiting female mannerisms. Many of these men seek to engage virile straight-identified men as their sexual partners.

In the world of public washrooms, park sex, and public cruising, a system of sexuality devoid of identity politics and responding to gendered behavior according to sexual roles flourished.

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Over time, however, North American models of identity, which emphasize egalitarian relationships in which sexual roles are not rigidly polarized, have slowly replaced these patterns.

Not bound by the older system, lesbians have more readily developed communities based on sexual identity.

New Attitudes, New Laws

Despite these conceptual differences with the North American model of sexuality, glbtq communities have thrived during the last twenty years. Given this rapid change in social attitudes, including a greater tolerance for homosexuality on the part of the general public, it is not surprising that the law soon followed suit.

A new criminal code enacted in 1995 introduced provisions against discrimination based on sexual orientation, while it also abolished older laws often utilized to persecute sexual minorities.

Moreover, hate crimes and violence against gay and lesbian individuals can now be punished with up to four years in prison.

Although a 1995 law acknowledged the rights of common law couples, regardless of sexual orientations, no comprehensive partnership law was then enacted at the federal level, mainly because of the opposition of the conservative party then in power. However, many localities, beginning with the Basque town of Vitoria in 1994, enacted laws that afforded gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as married couples.

Catalonia passed such a law of partnership in 1998, granting the right of mutual custody, the protection of the household in case of death, and limited inheritance rights to the surviving partner. In 1999 the regional government of Aragon passed a similar law.

Although the gay community welcomed these legal advances, Spain lagged behind such European countries as the Netherlands and Belgium in recognizing and protecting gay and lesbian partnerships until the election of a reform-minded socialist government in March 2004.

In 2005, despite the bitter opposition of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Spain became the third country to legalize same-sex marriage, when its Parliament passed a bill that also provided adoption rights and inheritance rights to same-sex couples.

During the Congress of Deputies' final debate on the bill, on June 30, 2005, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in a speech in which he quoted gay poets Luis Cernuda and C. P. Cavafy, remarked that it was not the business of government to humiliate its citizens. He described the bill before the Congress as one that expanded "opportunities for the happiness of our neighbors, our work colleagues, our friends, our relatives." He added, "We were not the first [to legalize same-sex marriage], but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."

Cristian Berco

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social sciences >> Overview:  Domestic Partnerships

"Domestic partnership" is the generic term for a variety of forms of legal and institutional recognition of same-sex couples that fall short of same-sex marriage.

arts >> Overview:  European Art: Twentieth Century

A large number of significant twentieth-century European artists focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themes, making such concerns crucial to the understanding of twentieth-century European art.

arts >> Overview:  Film Festivals

The queer film festival circuit came into its own in the early 1990s and has since burgeoned into a major international phenomenon.

social sciences >> Overview:  Hate Crimes

Hate Crimes are crimes towards persons or groups motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

social sciences >> Overview:  Identity Politics

Not limited to activity in the traditionally conceived political sphere, identity politics refers to activism, politics, theorizing, and other similar activities based on the shared experiences of members of a specific social group, often relying on shared experiences of oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  Inquisition

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the Inquisitions of Aragon and Portugal prosecuted almost 1500 trials for sodomy of various kinds.

social sciences >> Overview:  Madrid

Madrid, Spain's largest city, has a long history of official efforts to eradicate sexual and gender deviance, but has recently made great strides in the struggle for equality for its glbtq population.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parades and Marches

Both parades and marches have served to render the glbtq community visible; whereas marches typically attempt to effect political change, parades and pride events affirm identity and community.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  Same-Sex Marriage

Lesbian and gay couples have been fighting for the freedom to marry since the dawn of the modern glbtq struggle for equality; despite some success abroad, progress toward same-sex marriage in the United States has been slow.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy

First used to refer only to anal intercourse, sodomy was progressively defined by the Church Fathers, and many later lawmakers, to include all sexual acts that could not result in procreation.

literature >> Overview:  Spanish Literature

Treating homosexuality in Spanish literature is largely a twentieth-century phenomenon, occurring most frequently in the post-Franco decades.

arts >> Barcelona Monument

The gay monument in Barcelona, dedicated in March 2011, commemorates the sufferings of glbtq people.

literature >> Cavafy, C. P.

Alexandrian Greek poet C. P. Cavafy has written some of the greatest homoerotic poems of all time.

literature >> Cernuda, Luis

Luis Cernuda, one of Spain's most important twentieth-century poets, expressed his homosexuality first indirectly and then explicitly in his poetry.

literature >> García Lorca, Federico

The works of García Lorca, internationally recognized as Spain's most prominent lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century, are filled with thinly veiled homosexual motifs and themes.


Aliaga, Juan Vicente, and José Miguel G. Cortés. Identidad y diferencia. Sobre la cultura gay en España. Barcelona: Editorial Gay y Lesbiana, 1997.

Carrasco, Rafael. Inquisición y represión sexual en Valencia: historia de los sodomitas (1565-1785). Barcelona: Laertes, 1985.

International Lesbian and Gay Association. Country Legal Report: Spain.

Pérez Cánovas, Nicolás. Homosexualidad, homosexuales y uniones homosexuales en el derecho español. Granada: Editorial Comares, 1996.

Perry, Mary Elizabeth. "The Nefarious Sin in Early Modern Seville." Journal of Homosexaulity 16.1-2 (1988): 67-89.

Sahuquillo, Ángel. Federico García Lorca y la cultura de la homosexualidad masculina. Alicante: Instituto de Cultura Juan Gil Albert, 1991.


    Citation Information
    Author: Berco, Cristian  
    Entry Title: Spain  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 16, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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