Preface: This is part of my massive rewrite of background information about the history of Spanish lesbians as a preface for the Madrid history travel guide. The Felipe González period is over 50 pages of single spaced size 12 text. It being broken down into the first half and the second half, with each half then broken down thematically. To make things easier to read, these are being shared in smaller blocked by section. This post contains three sections. The first is about the legal situation for lesbians as women and homosexuals. The second is about the European situation as it relates to the European Parliament and European Union. The last section is about Spanish political parties and their views on homosexuals and their issues. It could probably do with expanding about how they treated and viewed women as that is where many feminist lesbians were militant but that can wait as this thing is already weighty and those issues are explored in much more depth in the feminist section.
1989 and 1993 Spanish general elections
Felipe González returned to power following the 29 October 1989 general elections. His party had lost 4.5% of the popular vote compared to the 1986 elections, which translated to a loss of nine seats. The elections were highly controversial, with accusations of fraud and voting irregularities that in some cases required judicial intervention in places like Murcia, Pontevedra and Melilla. PSOE managed to acquire confidence and supply support from the Agrupaciones Independientes de Canarias (AIC). Partido Popular’s leader and future Spanish president José María Aznar led his party to slightly better than expected results and a pick up of 2 seats.
The 1993 Spanish general elections took place on 6 June 1993, with all 350 seats of the Congreso de Diputados up for election as well as 208 of the 256 being contested. Felipe González returned to power for a fourth time, but after losing 18 seats in the Congreso de Diputados and his party’s absolute majority in the body. To govern, he needed to create a coalition with Catalan nationalist party Convergència i Unión (CiU). The coalition was a rocky one, especially as PSOE was beset by corruption allegations. When it finally fell apart, Felipe González was forced to call new elections 15 months early, in 1996, and effectively ended PSOE’s hegemony.
The second half of the Felipe González period saw few legal place additional reforms take place as a certain level of inertia existed, activism had changed to focus on other issues, economic success as a result of European funding meant there was less pressure to continue major reformist activities, and Spain was dealing with other issues like combating Basque terrorism. Most of the major changes would happen in the year before the 1996 elections when González’s PSOE was beset by numerous corruption allegations.
1995 saw the start of a period that led the to introduction of anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation around Spain. The Ley Orgánica 10/1995 that came into effect on 23 November 1995, finally bringing an official end to the Ley de escándalo público with the last remaining remnants of the law being repealed. Variants of the law would remain on the books but mostly to prosecute against voyeurs and exhibitionists. That same year, the 1970 ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social would also be completely repealed.
In 1995, the law would be modified to specifically bar public health from funding transsexual surgeries. This did not impact lesbians directly, except as some had been agitating against transsexuals as a form of woman face while other lesbians had begun trying to institutionally bring transsexual women into Spanish feminist communities as equal participants to women.
Inside institutional feminism, Carmen Martínez Ten served as the director of the Instituto de la Mujer from 1988 to 1991. Marina Subirats served as the director of the Instituto de la Mujer from 1993 to 1996.
European Union wide elections were scheduled for 15 June 1989. These were the first ones that Spain was able to participate in, with the 1987 ones being held irregularly as a result of their membership occurring between terms. Spain again had 60 seats allocated to it. There were three primary parties going into the elections, PSOE, the newly consolidated Partido Popular led on the top of the ticket by Marcelino Oreja, and Adolfo Suarez’s Centro Democrático y Social (CDS) led by José Ramón Caso. PSOE won 27 seats, Partido Popular won 15, CDS won 5, Izquierda Unida won 4, and 7 other parties won the remaining 9 seats. Izquierda Unida was the only major party to pick up seats from the 1987 elections.
As in the first half of the González presidency, homosexuality remained an issue of discussion and action on a European wide issue in the early and mid-1990s. Women in non-traditional jobs, women with disabilities, lesbians, women from racial minorities, gay men and young men were listed by the European Parliament in 1992 as groups that were particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment.
The European Commission acknowledge in September 1992 that member states laws differed widely when it came to the civil status of same-sex couples. At the same time, the civil status did not fall within the jurisdiction of the European Community, but within the jurisdiction of individual member states. Article 220 of the EEC Treaty and the Rome Convention were not applicable to homosexual coupled because they were not ipso factor recognized.
In 1992, European Commission of Human Rights in response to a question to about what protections were being taken to ensure freedom of movement got homosexuals and lesbians across the European Community, the Commission said that that provisions on the freedom of movement of works on the principle of non-discrimination covered this.
One of the most important European reforms occurred in 1993. Starting that year, every country that was a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and wanted to join the Council of Europe was required to decriminalize homosexuality. This requirement was outlined in Document 176/1993. The following year, the European Parliament approved a resolution on the equality of lesbian and gay rights.
Political parties, unions and lesbians
Most of the political efforts inside the Spanish Cortes de Diputados focused on the repeal of the 1970 Law on dangerousness and social rehabilitation from the transition period up until around 1993. The 1979 law had been grandfathered into Spain’s civil code in the democratic period in 1978. Most other political efforts in the Cortes de Diputados focused on the use of police files that referenced lesbians and gays around this law, and the effort to close these files so they could no longer be used against homosexual individuals. Around 1994, PSOE began to their position on lesbian and gay rights as part of their broader stated goals to respect and protect human and civil rights and ensure that all citizens had full rights of citizenship in the new democratic Spain.
During the 1990s, CCOO and UGT, Madrid universities and left-wing political parties continued to be heterocentric despite supporting the LGBT community in their platforms. During the late 1990s, they were particularly bad at recognizing the needs of specific groups like lesbians, migrants, incarcerated people and prostitutes. When they did address these topics, they did so from their offices, rarely taking to the streets to support these groups.
The Pink Vote was an effort that also met with some resistance. The effort was intended to mobilize voters to turn out and vote for political parties that would support homosexual rights ahead of the 1993 Spanish national elections. Issues they wanted people to vote for parties supporting included recognition of the rights of homosexual couples, the creation of anti-discrimination laws, and the inclusion of homosexuality in education. The movement was successful, ultimately turning out some 600,000 voters on these issues. COFLHEE and some lesbian feminist groups, including ones in the Basque Country, though disagreed with this. They felt these efforts were too reformist.
The Pink Vote was an effort that also met with some resistance. The effort was intended to mobilize voters to turn out and vote for political parties that would support homosexual rights ahead of the 1993 Spanish general elections. Issues they wanted people to vote for parties supporting included recognition of the rights of homosexual couples, the creation of anti-discrimination laws, and the inclusion of homosexuality in education. The movement was successful, ultimately turning out some 600,000 voters on these issues. COFLHEE and some lesbian feminist groups, including ones in the Basque Country, though disagreed with this. They felt these efforts were too reformist.
In 1994, Izquierda Unida created the first LGBT group, Área por la Libertad de Expresión AfectivoSexual (ALLAS), within a Spanish political party. The groups would later be renamed Área de Gays, Lesbianas, Bisexuales y Transexuales. Its formation was not without pushback within the party. A fair amount of the support came from Asociación de Ex-presos Sociales del Franquismo, a group seeking to eliminate police records of homosexuals and others under the Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social.
PSOE finally integrated lesbian and gay rights into their electoral program in 1996 ahead of elections they went on to lose for other reasons. Their position was to support legal recognition of civil unions. Izquierda Unida had a much more advanced electoral program by this time, supporting equal legal recognition of same-sex and opposite-sex couples, free access to artificial insemination for lesbian couples, comprehensive sex education, support for LGBT associations and establishing a parliamentary committee on LGBT rights. Both parties took these positions into the 1996 Spanish general elections, which PSOE lost for the first time in sixteen years. PSOE was replaced by the conservative Partido Popular. Despite the loss, the elections marked an important turning point in Spanish politics, as homosexuality finally became an important political issue in Spain.