An Extremadura Lesbian History

One of the issues I have been having recently is an understanding that lesbian history often needs context, be it a broader historical context to establish the cultural narrative for which that history is situated or a theoretical framework such as feminist or queer theory. Below is a brief example of what happens when you rather jettison some of that historical framework and the available historical narrative appears to be lacking.  I’m rather frustrated that I could not find better sources, but this will actually be much stronger and better when presented as a travel guide with the lesbian history book as an accompanying text. It absents most of the national context except as it relates specifically to Extremadura. Despite this issues, I hope you enjoy reading this history and the insights it gives you into the situation for lesbians in Extremadura. As it stands now, based on the available sources I have read almost entirely in Spanish, it is the most comprehensive history of lesbians in the region at around 9,400 words.

Edit: This article was substantially updated on 13 March 2022.

An Extremadura Lesbian History

Extremadura’s location relative to the rest of Spain.

Extremadura is one of Spain’s smaller autonomous regions by population, with only around 1,057,000 inhabitants in 2021. Asturias, Navarra, Cantabria and La Rioja are the only regions with fewer people. At the same time, it is the fifth largest region in Spain by area at 41634 square kilometers. These two statistics combined mean the region has the second lowest population density in all of Spain, with around 25 people per square kilometer. Only Castilla y León has a lower density at 25.34 people per square kilometer. The wide-open spaces and lack of big, highly dense cities has been a historical characteristic of the region, and play a role in the reason why there is so little available information about the history of lesbians Extremadura.

Back in the Roman period, the region was part of Lusitania with Mérida as its capital. It was one of the most important cities of its time. While there is some information about women loving women in other parts of modern day Spain, none appears to be tied to the city. When most of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by the Umayyads in the early 8th century, the territory largely was administratively absorbed in using the Roman administrative area. Women loving women was not unknown in Moorish Spain, but the remaining historical record is mostly based on accounts from modern day Andalucía with no stories coming from the region known today as Extremadura. Starting in the 11th century, the area began to change hands as parts were taken by what are now Portuguese kings and others by León.

From 18 October 1509, male and female sodomy were both treated by the Crown of Castile as matters of secular justice, in an agreement reached with the Church. This contrasted with the Crown of Aragon where they were treated as matters belonging to the inquisitorial forum. At the time, the Crown of Castile encompassed the Kingdom of Galicia, the Principality of Asturias, the Kingdom of León, the Kingdom of Castile, the Lordship of Biscay, the Kingdom of Toledo, the Kingdom of Sevilla, the Kingdom of Cordoba, the Kingdom of Jaen and the Kingdom of Murcia.

Starting in the 15th century, the concept of Extremadura began to develop among those in León in Castilla. Despite this, the territory had no shared government or administrative institutions. Between 1570 and 1572, the Spanish kings forcibly relocated around 11,000 moriscos to the area as part of a process that would ultimately see the Moors, like the Jews before them, expelled from Spain. It is in this period that the first possible glimpses of lesbian life in Extremadura might be found based, not because of extemporaneous records left by lesbians of that period but because one of Spain’s most famous suspected and tried by the Inquisition but found innocent lesbians was in the area. That woman was Santa Teresa de Ávila.

Santa Teresa entered the city of Plasencia via Calle Mayor and Plaza Mayor via Vallodalid on 28 December 1580. While in the town on this trip, she stayed at a rented house which has since been demolished. The Plaza de Doña Inés de Osorio is where the original Carmelite convent founded by Saint Teresa was located. None of the accusations related to female sodomy in the Inquisition related to her limited activities in Plasencia, but convents elsewhere in Spain at that time were one of the places lesbians could go to try to assert some control over their sexuality and be free of men. The other option often was prostitution, and there are no well-known stories regarding women from that period in Extremadura like there are in Castilla y León and Andalucía. This latter connection is why some historical Spanish words describing lesbians have roots meaning prostitute.

Lesbians were targeted by the Inquisition in Extremadura for behaving like men by having sex with other women. Some of the women prosecuted by the Inquisition were found guilty because they had dildos. Punishments faced by women found guilty of female sodomy included auto-da-fe, a form of public penance, along with getting 200 to 400 lashes, or being forced into exile for a period of a few years to into perpetuity. Exile was the mildest form of punishment, and normally was just exile from her village but on occasion involved exile from the entire inquisitorial district. Exile often included herself, her immediate family and any descendants she may have had.

Priests denounced male and female sodomites from the pulpit, saying they would face the wrath of God. One Extremadura priest is quoted as saying in A.H.N. Inquisición. Legajo 559, “It is the sin of sodomy so heinous and execrable, that by it , our Lord, sends earthquakes, pestilences, famine and other great punishments in the provinces and parts where they commit.” The Church’s condemnation was intense, and they encouraged the faithful to inform on suspected gays and lesbians in order to protect everyone else from the wrath of God on earth.

The Inquisition was its most aggressive in the whole of Spain in Llerena, where auto-de-fe became one of the primary features. Coupled with the expulsion of the Jews and Moors who moved through the area and faced the Inquisition on their way to exile, the locals were terrified by the process as it found witches, bigamists, sodomites, petitioner priests and other heretics. These victims sometimes disappeared by secret courts, burned alive at the stake, had their property confiscated, were tortured in front of family, and had their relatives punished as a result of their alleged crimes. The harshness of the Inquisitorial District was known throughout Spain.

Slave women were sometimes found guilty by the Inquisition in Extremadura of having sex with other women. Given the culture of the time, responsibility to their masters likely included not just housework but likely sex work, with many female slaves having two or three children where all of their baptismal records said the father was unknown. This process of siring children on female slaves allowed masters to have a new generation of slaves without having to pay for them. Further, if found guilty by the Inquisition, a master could easily dispose of the slave to avoid the dishonor of having a heretic in his household. When the female slave was banished, the master often accompanied her to the edge of town and then further flogged her and then put her up for sale so he could try to recover the cost of the slave. Her new master would often then use her the same way, for housework and for sexual activity.

One such slave women found guilty of female sodomy was a woman named Francisa. The 30-year-old slave woman from Salvatierra de los Barros went before the Inquisition for having sex with two women. She had thought it was a minor, venial sin and not a huge deal as the priest she saw for confession only asked about sexual relations with men. She was given 200 lashes in Salvatierra de los Barros as she committed the crime there, given another 200 lashes in Llerena where the Inquisitorial District was based. Francisca faced further punishment of perpetual and her master could further punish her as he saw fit.

The Inquisition in Extremadura would ultimately see 3,500 people killed by the state for their alleged crimes. Of these 3,500 victims, only around 20 were male or female homosexuals. Nine of those sodomites well killed between 1500 and 1700, the period where the Inquisition was at its most aggressive point. Families of those who died were often destroyed as a result, with the death heavily impacting their ability to exist normally in Extremadura society.

The region faced a crisis as a result of the 1640–1668 Portuguese Restoration War that saw it face huge economic damages. And it is again a period where lesbians appear to have disappeared from Extremadura history. The area took centuries to recover, made worse because of the concentration of land ownership in the hands of a few elites who used most of it for pasture for cattle. Some economic recovery began around the 1860s, about 20 years after lesbians again briefly appeared on the landscape of Extremadura life. This time, they did not come from religious life but from the region’s literary cultural. They were led by Carolina Coronado, and included Vicenta García Miranda and María Cabezudo in a literary movement born in Badajoz that would influence Spanish writers as far away as Madrid and Barcelona. The group were centered around the liceo de Badajoz, which played an important role in the development of a number of lesbian and Sapphic poets and novelists during the 1800s in the city.

Carolina Coronado, born on 12 December 1820 in Almendralejo, Extremadura, was one a handful of Spanish Sapphic writers in this period who would later be written out of history despite being widely read at the time unlike her contemporaries like Pilar de Sinués, Fernán Caballero, Emilia Pardo Bazán and Rosalía de Castro whose works became part of Spanish literary canon. As a group, those women with class privilege were better placed to ignore social norms that said writing was a masculine activity. Others were protected because of a network of women they surrounded themselves with. Others found validation and support of their work through support of male family members. Others could self-publish their work. In many cases, the group who remained visible in history for much longer periods were able to do so because their works did not fundamentally challenge patriarchal narratives of the state and society.

By 1840, the 20-year-old had established a literary circle of like-minded, though not necessarily lesbian, women that included Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and Cecilia Francisca Josefa Böhl, where the phrase “hermandad lírica” first gained prominence along with the concept of “las amistades”, circles of female writers who developed deep friendships with each other that didn’t involve competition with each other. Her four-poem collection of Los cantos de Safo was published in 1843 in a poetry volume, Poesías, along with the piece “El salto de Leucades” using Sapphic myth and voice. Coronado had feared that borrowing from this tradition would limit her broader appeal as it would require readers to have a classic education to understand them. She also was transgressive in writing about female desire for other women by borrowing from tradition that suggested Sappho’s writings about such desire were aimed at men. She friends with fellow Extremadura writer Vicenta García Miranda, who started writing poetry after reading Coronado’s work. The pair would correspond frequently, sharing a close but societally accepted relationship.

Vicenta García Miranda was born in Campanario in 1816. Growing up without a mother and a bedridden father, she moved with her family into the home of her paternal uncle when she was an 11-year-old. Prior to that, she had learned to read, write and gained an appreciation of classical literature. Life in her uncle’s house made that difficult to continue. In 1833 at the age of 17, she married and nine years later had a son who died when he was eleven months old. About a year later, her husband died. Two years later, in 1845, she began to write her own poetry after reading the works of Carolina Coronado. She soon had her work published and befriended other poets in Badajoz, including Amalia Fenollosa, Manuela Cambronero and Rogelia León. She also became a regular participant in the Liceo de Badajoz alongside María Cabezudo and Carolina Coronado. She continued to write for many years and continued to organize writing groups, including ones in Campanario. She died in Campanario in 1877.

María Cabezudo Chalons was born on 10 February 1821 in Badajoz. She was actively publishing her work by 1844 in provisional magazines, and in ones from Alicante and Madrid. Cabezudo was active in the literary section of the Liceo de Badajoz, which published several of her poems between 1845 and 1849. She taught classes there in 1846. Coronado was a big booster of her work, encouraging her to submit it to more publications though outside a handful of publications, that never happened. Two of her poems were dedicated to Carolina Villar y Aldana who died in 1849. She greatly missed Coronado when Coronado moved from Badajoz to Madrid. She continued to write poetry into the late 1890s mostly through the liceo. Coronado described Cabezudo as, “a slender young woman, with curly blond hair and very bright eyes.” She never married, though the reasons are unclear.

The Extremadura Sapphic literary period was relatively brief, starting in the 1840s and mostly ending by the early 1850s. The writers continued to be active as writers, activists or assisting in other causes, some in Extremadura and some in Spain and abroad. When the Hermandad Lírica became inactive, the door closed on the period of knowledge into lesbian life in the region. María Cabezudo Chalons died on 19 July 1902 at Hospital Civil de Badajoz. Carolina Coronado died in Lisbon on 15 January 1911 and was interred in at Cementerio de San Juan in Extremadura. Their deaths and the subsequent writing of Coronado out of history officially ended the period. Following her death, Poesías by Carolina Coronado was reprinted in 1923 and then not again until 1946 in Barcelona and 1953 in Madrid. It would be reclaimed in the post-transition period where it was finally reprinted numerous times including in 1979, 1983, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2017 in Madrid, Mérida, Badajoz, Dueñas, Córdoba and Cáceres.

Xirgu in Mérida.

Members of the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid, who were born during the 1880s and 1890s, came from across various parts of Spain but none from Extremadura. Members moved around the country as they engaged in the world of art, music, literature, theater, sport and politics. They largely did not visit Extremadura with the major exception of Margarita Xirgu. She visited Teatro Romano de Mérida in 1926, and decided she would try to stage a theatrical performance there. After a few stutter starts, Xirgu found success, creating what is now the Festival Internacional de Teatro Clásico de Mérida before an initial audience of 3,000 spectators. Her activities in Mérida though were limited, not linked to Lorca, for whom she was a muse, or any of her love affairs. While lesbian life flourished elsewhere during the Second Spanish Republic, little is known about what occurred in Extremadura.

Roman theater in Mérida.

The start of the Civil War saw Extremadura fall into the hands of Franco’s forces, with the Columna Madrid, quickly taking the province of Badajoz in August 1936 and leaving in its wake a huge number of casualties and reprisals for the region’s staunch support of the Republic. Some 12,000 executions took place in the province of Badajoz alone compared to 1,600 by Republicans. Lesbians, suspected lesbians and gender non-conforming women were often particular targets of fascist forces though stories of repression against them in Extremadura are again lacking compared to other regions like Andalucía.

The Franco period was particularly repressive as Spain became a fascist state. Agrarian reforms during the period by Instituto Nacional de Colonización y Desarrollo Rural resulted in massive rural flight out of Extremadura. The region lost up to 40% its population by 1965 from its pre-Civil War totals.

General histories of lesbians in the Franco period appear to ignore the region, and the general flight likely gave lesbians cover to leave for other parts of Spain to take up work that would allow them a bit more freedom from scrutiny like teaching. The Centro de Observación y Clasificación had a board in every province in Spain, and they would have dealt with cases of female homosexuality for both minors and adult women. If young women and adult women were suspected of lesbianism were identified, they would likely have been addressed via that system. Discussions in historical texts though do not mention cases happening in Extremadura. And despite Extremadura being rural, it was likely that women loving women were present in the region. A study by Doctor Ramón Serrano Vicens between 1940 and 1961 said that of the 1,417 cases he looked at during his medical consultations, 35% of women had engaged in homosexual practices but among his cases, 32% had only a single homosexual experience. 3.8% of all cases were married women who had their first homosexual experience after marriage, and that 7.5% of all married women had had homosexual incidents. There is no reason to believe that Extremadura defied these trends. Badajoz was home to a prison for male homosexuals in the Franco period, located in the building Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo now uses. There may have been a women’s prison attached but some sources uses LGBT to refer to refer to who was imprisoned there as a means of being inclusive, making understanding that picture hard to determine. The prison in Badajoz was for more passive homosexuals, compared to the one in Huelva, which was for active homosexuals.

Despite the persecution, lesbians were found in Badajoz in the late Franco and appeared to have their own subculture in the 1960s. Lesbian couples often had one member who was butch and another who was femme. The butch lesbian wore pants, with corduroy pants being particularly popular, at a time when it was suspect if a woman to wear pants because the gender norms of the day dictated women wear skirts or dresses. People were aware of what the lesbians were, would call them bolleras and tortilleras, would call them abnormal for being lesbians, and would be abusive towards them. If a woman defended them, their own sexuality could become suspect as a result.

Frente de Liberación gay de Extremadura was founded early in the transition period, and was almost certainly dominated by gay men with the possibility of one or two lesbian participants given the historical patterns. Little appears to be known about the organization, other than it faced huge obstacles and soon folded, making no impact on Extremadura gay and lesbian culture or pushing through changes to improve the legal situations for homosexuals in the region. The organization has largely been completely forgotten and has not been mentioned by more contemporary researchers.

89.5% of voters in the province of Badajoz said yes to the new proposed constitution, while 90.3% in Cáceres said yes when it was put to a vote in 1978. Following the end of the Franco period and the democratic transition, the estatuto de autonomía de Extremadura came into force on 26 February 1983 and Extremadura became an autonomous community with Mérida as its capital. The first regional elections were held on 8 May 1983 and a PSOE led government came to power. These two things, a new national constitution and a new regional governing body, brought new stability to the region, along with more ability to have local control over a number of different issues promised by the 1978 Spanish constitution

Lesbians were involved in the feminist movement in the city likely by the late 1970s, though these lesbians were likely heavily closeted, and avoided dual militancy that often homophobic feminist organizations at that time tended to ask of members.  Lesbianism as a topic, based on the experiences of lesbians elsewhere, likely would rarely have come up in meetings or in discussions among other members.  Their political goals during the transition would have in support of legal equality, making the Spanish Constitution feminist, repeal of certain laws, and making divorce, contraceptives and abortion legal.  While lesbian feminist groups were being created elsewhere in Spain as early as 1977, the broader Extremadura situation suggests that the first lesbian feminist group in Extremadura was not founded until the late 1980s in Cáceres and other than the fact that at least a handful of women were involved in the group, documentation remains scarce.

The history of lesbians in Extremadura then appears to go dark during the 1980s and early 1990s in Extremadura with the exception of Cáceres. It is possible there were a few lecturers at the Universidad de Extremadura, which was only founded in 1973, that were publishing on topics related to homosexuality as they are cited in academic papers, summer courses and conference proceedings published in the 1990s and 2000s. These types of references though are rare, and do not really indicate any active homosexual rights community or activist community in the region.

The lack of information in a homosexual context sits across another information void. Across Spain, many lesbians did not necessarily have an explicitly lesbian identity during the 1980s and 1990s. Instead, their identity was that of a feminist, discussing their lesbianism within this context at national and regional institutional feminist jornadas. The major exceptions to the trend appear to be Extremadura, the Baeleric Islands, Melilla and Ceuta.

Life for homosexuals in the 1990s in Extremadura was very difficult. Almost everyone was in the closet. Despite some change of attitudes in places like Madrid and Barcelona and a 1994 survey saying 41% of Spaniards thought society was tolerant of the homosexuals which was an improvement on 16% a decade earlier, the topic of homosexuality was very taboo in Extremadura. Even amongst their own kind, homosexuals had to battle internalized homophobia. For most, their public life was non-existent. In the 1990s, many gays and lesbians from Extremadura left for other parts of the country where they felt they could be more open in their love of people of the same sex.

A homosexual rights movement began to emerge into the daylight in Extremadura in 1994 in Barcarrota, a small town of then around 4000 people. A local radio station in Barcarrota broadcast a program in 1994 called “Somos Diferentes, Somos Iguales” presented as part of “La tarde del viernes” that looked discrimination faced by many different groups, with a different group each week. The program looked at the reality of gay and lesbian life in Extremadura. 20-year-old José María Núñez helped present the program, realizing as he did so that there were not homosexual rights groups in the region to actually talk to about those issues. As a result, he and others in Barcarrota and Badajoz decided to create the first LGBT organization in Extremadura later that year. The organization was De Par en Par.

Early members included José María Núñez, Ana Carmen Fraile, Amparo Hernández and Roberto González. A number of them would go on to continue their activist work for more than 20 years in the region in leadership positions. The group advertised in the magazine El trastero to try to get people to join, and met once a week at embarcadero de Badajoz. José María Núñez, who was born in Barcarrota in 1971, went on to become a university professor and president of Fundación Triángulo. Early in is academic career in Extremadura, a professor said he would likely not be hired because he was a faggot. Amparo Hernández came from Barcelona and had previously been involved with a homosexual rights organization there. The group then started searching beyond Badajoz, including at places like Womad in Cáceres. A lot of the early meetings for De Par en Par were just about spending time together with other homosexuals free of the fear of being outed, and being able to express themselves freely.

The following year, Barcarrota approved a Registro de Parejas de Hecho, the first town in Extremadura to do so. It was only a year after Vitoria became the first town in all of Spain to pass such a law. The town was then around one of only 30 in the whole of Spain with such a registry, with the other cities including Barcelona, Cordoba, Granada, Ibiza and Toledo. El Periódico Extremadura ran an article by Roberto González and José María Núñez Blanco in 1995 titled, “Ser homosexual en Extremadura”. It was the first article by the publication to look at the lives of homosexuals in the region.

In 1995, De Par en Par became the first LGBT organization in Extremadura to be formally registered with the government. Consejero de Bienestar Social de la Junta Guillermo Fernandez Vara became the first government representative to formally talk to the group. After the group met with Guillermo Fernández Vara, they were able to find space for an office at Calle San Juan, 21 in Badajoz. Having an office did not mean public acceptance though, as their offices were vandalized with graffiti several times in the early years. They soon started a support telephone line, which was very active as it allowed callers to remain anonymous. Transsexuality quickly came to De Par en Par as a result of the telephone line and similar types of outreach when a transsexual gitano woman approached them for assistance. They were unsure how to help them, and the transsexual woman eventually turned to prostitution being unable to find any other solution. José María Núñez said in an interview that his inability to help in the case was one of his greatest disappointments in that period.

One of the De Par en Par’s early initiatives was to post propaganda around the city, featuring posters of men and women kissing, shaking hands or hugging. Their goal was to make homosexuals visible and to break stereotypes with these images. The posters were still viewed as controversial despite no explicit imagery and were removed by the police. Despite that, people themselves did not respond in a hostile manner to the posters.

In, de Par en Par started planning an HIV / AIDS initiative that they formally launched on 1 December 1996. As part of a media interview related to it, José María Núñez said that HIV did not distinguish between race, sex or class. Despite the for its time revolutionary statement, the campaign was pretty much focused on gay men to the exclusion of lesbian safe-sex practices.

While de Par en Par focused on these issues, the national push for homosexual relationship rights was headed into full swing. After the Barcarrota’s creation of a civil registry, the next mention of these efforts in the region took place in 1996 with advocacy work being done by Elena de León as president of CRECUL Partido Comunista de España (PCE), and Área de Libertad Afectivo-sexual de Izquierda Unida (ALEAS) presenting a draft legislation to the Congreso de Diputados. At the same time they did that on the national level, the group was also submitting similar legislation to regional legislature like Asamblea de Extremadura. It is a bit unclear when and how these legislative efforts regionally were acted on in the region. The Asamblea de Extremadura approved the Registro de Parejas de Hecho de Extremadura a few years later in 1998. It provided no real rights, with such benefits not coming until 2003 when new legislation was passed.

1997 was a pivotal year for LGBT activism in Extremadura with a number of activities taking place, including the creation of a new LGBT org, Orgullo activities appearing to start for the first time, a gay night club existing, and new initiatives starting aimed at the LGBT community.

The number of LGBT places in Extremadura was limited in 1997 because few things had changed since 1994. One of the few explicitly gay places was the Athos Club at Calle Baños, 24 in Mérida. It was a night club catering to primary gay men, and it is unclear when it first opened though that likely occurred in 1996. The club appeared to have closed sometime around late 2015.

Fundación Triángulo Extremadura was created in 1997 to build on the initial energy of de Par en Par, and to work towards improving the life of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals in Extremadura. Its purpose was to advocate politically in defense of LGBT rights in the region. Early membership for the group came from the same people who were involved in de Par en Par.

A campaign called ‘Quiérete’ was started in Extremadura in 1997 aimed at improving the self-esteem of LGBT youth in the region. It is unclear who organized it, though it was likely Fundación Triángulo or de Par en Par.

Orgullo was celebrated in Cáceres and Badajoz in 1997. Posters advertising Orgullo 1997 featured hearts with the names of two women and two men.

Teatro López de Ayala hosted I Muestra de Cine Gay Lésbico de Extremadura in 1998. This was the first gay and lesbian film festival to be hosted in Extremadura, and only the third gay and lesbian film festival in Spain. The first film screened at the festival The Celluloid Closet, a 1995 American documentary looking at the history of homosexuality in Hollywood. By the festival’s fifth edition, it would be known as FanCineGay. When Muestra de Cine Gay Lésbico de Extremadura first started, it faced a perception issue. People who were outside the LGBT community often asked if all the films were pornographic as that the main way they knew about gays and lesbians through movies.

Fundación Triángulo successfully lobbied the Asamblea de Extremadura in 1998 to monitor the historical memory in the region, specifically in regards to maintaining historical files related to the Ley de Peligrosidad Social. This amended the historical memory law to specifically include those records, which were being destroyed in some other regions in Spain.

Fundación Triángulo Extremadura found more success in lobbying for the rights of gay men in 1999, building on their success from the previous year. In 1999, Fundación Triángulo Extremadura successfully lobbied to have the blood donation rules by Servicio Extremeño de Salud be changed to no longer exclude homosexual and bisexual men just because they are homosexual and bisexual. This did not impact lesbian and bisexual women as they were not viewed as being at elevated risk to donate blood to begin with.

While a regional civil registry had been created in 1998 that provided no legal benefits, efforts continued to change that situation and give male and female homosexuals full relationship and family rights in the region and nationally. The first draft of the proposed Ley de Parejas de Hecho de Extremadura in 2001 was rejected by the gay and lesbian activist community because it did not allow the possibility of homosexual couples adopting. The draft did allow for same-sex couples to be temporary foster parents though. Ley de Parejas de Hecho de Extremadura was finally passed by the regional assembly in 2003. Ley 5/2003, de 20 de marzo, de Parejas de Hecho de la Comunidad Autónoma de Extremadura required that couples in a de facto relationship be of legal age or emancipated minors, not already legally bound by marriage or in a registered domestic partnership, or be a a blood or adoptive relative to the third degree. The rights included but not limited to the ability have common property belonging to the couple, and will support the other member of the couple in proportion to their resources unless an agreement was created to the contrary. When couples separated, there was the ability to claim financial compensation of the relationship led to wealth inequality for one partner. The law also gave rights for couples to foster minors, and set up a process should the couple separate. It also established a system of social benefits, and a tax regime. It did not provide adoption rights, though it did create a guardianship and visitation regime for common sons and daughters in those relationships.

Suggestions that lesbians and gays left Extremadura are born out in Spanish census data related to cohabitating couples. In 2001, it was estimated that 3% of all opposite-sex cohabitating couples in Spain lived in Extremadura. This contrasts with 1% of all lesbian cohabitation couples and 1% of all gay male cohabitating couples. The region had 2% less for each group compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

While the work in 2001 took place with action culminating 2003, other political efforts continued on similar fronts, especially as it related to family rights. PSOE Extremadura created an LGBT working group in 2003. Foro Extremeño por la Diversidad Afectivo Sexual was created in Extremadura in 2002 to promote Orgullo across the whole of the region. The first such event organized through the group was held on 28 June 2002 at Plaza de San Francisco in Badajoz. The I Jornadas cómo hablar sobre homosexualidad a los niños took place in 2003 at the Universidad de Extremadura campus in Badajoz. The event was organized by Fundación Triángulo Extremadura. This continued on into 2005, when the I Congreso Universitario sobre Adopción Homoparental took place at the Cáceres campus of the Universidad de Extremadura in 2005. It included presentations, workshops, round tables. 2005 was the same year that same-sex marriage became legal in Spain and included foster and adoption rights. That first year of marriage equality, Badajoz’s Registro Civil performed four same-sex weddings, Cáceres performed three, Mérida performed two and Llerena one.

The Asamblea de Extremadura in 2006 performed the first institutional act by regional government in Spain to condemn homophobia and transphobia. This would then be repeated annually on 17 May, the día internacional contra la homofobia y la transfobia. This contrasts with some regions where the act would be done in conjunction with Orgullo festivities.

Conferences about homosexuality and LGBT issues took place in 2006. Caceres hosted the 2006 edition of the Foro hispano luso sobre activismo LGBTI. Among those participating were Paulo Corte Real of Ilga Portugal, Beatriz Gimeno of FELGBT and Pedro Zerolo. In December 2006, under the direction of Javier Ugarte, the Jornadas sobre Represión Histórica de Lesbianas y Gays durante el Franquismo took place in Extremadura.

Extremadura Entiende was founded in 2008 in Mérida as an association for lesbians, transpeople and bisexual women in Extremadura to give LGBT women their own space. Sisi Cáceres Rojo was the association’s president in 2019, having been first elected in 2015. Pilar Milanés Milanés was the president in 2020. At the time, most of the members were white and either lesbian or bisexual, with few transwomen members. They had been working to try to change that for a few years In 2019, the association was looking to expand and add a physical presence in Cáceres and eventually did so, while also closing its space in Merida. The group had engaged in programming in secondary schools to try to combat hatred against LGBT people. They had also become a member of FELGTB. The group had worked with Asamblea Feminista de Cáceres since at least 2015. The group is part of Spanish fourth wave feminism.

One of the first explicitly lesbian events in Extremadura history took place in 2008, almost 24 years after the homosexual rights movement fully got underway in the region. The I Jornadas de Visibilidad Lésbica de Extremadura were held in 2008. The event was organized by Fundación Triángulo and Extremadura Entiende. From this point forward, lesbians would have more visibility in Extremadura culture as there would be lesbian specific events aimed at both lesbians themselves and the general population. As time goes by though, this issue becomes more blurry as LGBT groups conducting activities related to lesbians and lesbian groups themselves intentionally include transwomen in these events and start to define homosexuality as being based not as it historically was on sexually attraction but on gender identity.

Another explicitly lesbian event took place in 2008. Orgullo 2008 was celebrated in Badajoz in Plaza de San Andrés. The plaza was covered in rainbow flags. The event was organized by Foro Extremeño para la Diversidad Afectiva Sexual. The theme of the march was lesbian visibility. Festivities were kicked off with a performance by the musical group Sentimiento Loco. The manifesto was then read by women representing different organizations who collaborated in organizing the event. Attendees included 29-year-old Badajoz lesbian Sonia Fernández, who said she never felt discriminated against but that social lesbian life in Badajoz was very limited compared to Chueca in Madrid, where she felt more free to be herself. Another lesbian attendee Ángeles interviewed by Hoy said it was very hard to meet homosexual girls in the city, which is why many went to Madrid to flirt. It was a problem she saw across Badajoz society, where women were generally one step behind men. She also said that lesbians were much less visible in the city than gay men, and that lesbians were required to hide more and be more closeted than their male counterparts.

The Ayuntamiento de Badajoz helped celebrate Orgullo 2009 Badajoz with a concentration on 27 June organized by Foro Extremeño por la diversidad afectivo sexual at plaza de San Andrés. The event was subsidized by Consejería de Cultura and Turismo de la Junta de Extremadura. Associations participating in the event included Mujeres Progresistas, Mujeres Jóvenes, Malvaluna, Amnistía Internacional, Asociación de Derechos Humanos de Extremadura, CCOO Extremadura, UGT Extremadura, PSOE Extremadura, IU Extremadura, Juventudes Socialistas, Juventudes Comunistas, Los Verdes de Extremadura, Alternativa Joven, Asociación Tremn, El Arrabal Oriental,, Cáceres Laico, Centro de Ocio Contemporáneo, Comité Extremeño contra el Racismo, la Xenofobia y la Intolerancia, Consejo de la Juventud de Extremadura, FanCineGay,, the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas Gays, Bisexuales y Transexuales y Fundación Triángulo.

A 2010 study of lesbians in rural areas in Extremadura by Pablo A. Cantero Garlito and Noelia Fernández Rouco found that most lesbians became conscious of their same-sex sexual orientation in their early teens, with the latest realizing it in their mid-20s. 90% of the lesbians were employed, with 37.5% working in the hospitality industry, with the remaining having jobs like businesswomen, store clerk, administrative assistant and teacher. While 2/3rds of the women interviewed in the study had partners, 68% of the lesbians with partners did not live with them; 24% lived with their partner, and 8% lived with and were married to their partner. Despite being in relationships, around 30% of the lesbians surveyed found they missed having a satisfying relationship. When it came to sex, the Extremadura lesbians found they were mostly satisfied in that regards, mirroring similar rates of satisfaction by gay men in the region. Most of the lesbians did not find any benefit to being a lesbian in a rural area, with the only benefit being familiarity with them as individuals meant locals were more likely to accept them without the need for constant explanations. At the same time, the rural nature of their life meant most felt that being in a rural environment required them to be more closeted. Those that were out said that they faced greater criticism than other women because of their sexual orientation.

Extremadura Amable began a project in 2010 to promote the region as an LGBT friendly tourist destination.

Lesbian focused events coming from the LGBT community continued to take place in the early 2010s in Extremadura. II Jornadas de Visibilidad Lésbica de Extremadura took place in 2010 with the motto “Lesbianas: pasado, presente y futuro” at the Casa de la mujer in Cáceres in 27 and 18 April. The event was organized by Asociación Extremadura Entiende and the Fundación Triángulo Extremadura. The conference looked at the repression of lesbians in the early Franco period. This was done through presentations, book presentations, and talks based on personal experiences. There was also an open space for discussion, debate and training about lesbian visibility. It was attended by lesbians from Portugal.

Jornadas Estatales de Políticas Lésbicas por parte de la FELGTB took place in April 2011 at the Casa de la Mujer de Cáceres. The event was organized by Extremadura Entiende with support from FELGTB, and was attended by consejera de Igualdad y Empleo Pilar Lucio. The motto for the conference was “Not one step back”. Topics discussed at the conference included family, sexual health and issues faced by lesbians in rural areas.

Stories about lesbians from this time in Extremadura also begin emerge, providing contemporary accounts about the lives of lesbians and giving names to women from the region for the first time. Sevillano Esquivel was one such woman profiled; she was born in 1996 in Azuaga. When she was a 4-year-old, she moved to Don Benito. Growing up, she never learned about homosexuality and that it was possible to like girls; she only knew about heterosexuality. She came out of the closet around 2011 when she was 15-year-old by telling her gay brother. She then told her parents, who accepted her unconditionally though they were surprised as she did not conform to the stereotypes they had about lesbians. Her peers called her a fake lesbian for similar reasons, including that her taste in clothing meant she could not be a lesbian. She moved to Badajoz when she was an 18-year-old to do a double degree in LADE and Economics at the Universidad de Extremadura in Badajoz. Her lesbianism meant she was rejected by some of her peers, so she went back into the closet. A few years later, she came out again and started volunteering for Fundación Triángulo.

Homophobia continued to be a problem that homosexuals, both male and female, had to deal with. palomos cojos is a euphemism for homosexuals. In February 2011, Badajoz Councilman Miguel Celdrán said used the euphanisim in a radio interview saying that there are few “palomos cojos” in Badajoz and most are thrown to the side because the land is healthy and strong. Celdrán had been previously accused of using “palomos cojos” in 2007 in the City Council meeting when discussing alleged irregularities in municipal contracts.

Lesbians, having been granted family rights six years earlier had families, and this impacted their identities in Extremadura as lesbians. A study was carried out between 2011 and 2012 involving 20 self-identified lesbians from Andalucía, Cantabria, Catalonia, Extremadura, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, Basque Country and Valencia who were in co-parenting families, raising children conceived through assisted reproductive techniques together with a partner. Like Americans, many of the respondents defined people in their friends’ network as part of their family. All the lesbians interviewed by Gracia Trujillo and Elena Burgaleta in their study published in 2014 said that motherhood is a natural act, but not a rational one. They became parents because of that shared maternal desire. The majority of the women also referred to maternal instincts. One respondent said they had wanted to be a mother since they were around 19. Some respondents said that becoming a mother was also a cultural signal to others that they had “settled down” and were done with rebelling against non-heteronormative sexual practices. It also meant they tried to reconcile with family members, and especially with their own mothers. While queer feminism might suggest that these things should be resisted, the reality for lesbians in Spain was that real women did not feel the need to do so because they wanted to have families, spend the holidays with their families and recognize those familial bonds. For those interviewed, the identity of mother for many ended up trumping the identity of lesbian.

The IV encuentro de familias LGBT was held in Hervás from 15 to 18 April 2011. More than 90 families participated, with over 25 babies present with their mothers or fathers. Part of the event was drawing attention to the lack of legal rights faced by lesbian parents, including lack of state support for family planning, lack of access to reproductive assistance, and the need for modifications to the law that required lesbians to be married for custody to be given to both partners at the time of birth of their children. Gay male parents also advocated for their desire for womb rental to be legalized. The documentary Tengo una Familia was filmed during the event, and was later screened at Festival FanCineGay and on Canal Extremadura Tv. The grupo de Familias LGBT inside Fundación Triángulo Extremadura would also be founded as a result of ideas discussed during the meeting.

Despite an increase in family rights as a result of marriage equality in 2005, same-sex couples continued to leave the region in the mid-2000s and 2010s. Extremadura was second to last among all regions for the proportion of same-sex couples residing there with around 1.4% of all couples. Only Castilla y León had a smaller percentage at 1.3%.

Orgullo continued to take place across the major cities in Extremadura. Lesbians, lesbian organizations and feminist organizations participated in Orgullo in the region but there appeared to be very little lesbian centric content at Orgullo, Cáceres celebrated Orgullo in 2012 on 28 June at the Foro de los Balbos. The march was organized by Extremadura Entiende and Fundación Triángulo Extremadura. The motto for the march was “Matrimonio Igualitario. Igualdad sin recortes”, the same one in Madrid as Extremadura Entiende followed the lead of FELGTB. This was chosen after the Tribunal Constitucional ruled that love between two men or two women in Spain expressed through marriage is constitutional. This was celebrated nationwide, including in Extremadura.

Young lesbians who were aware of their sexual orientation in primary and secondary faced challenges as homophobia continued to be present in Extremadura society in the 2010s. They could have homophobic teachers and face homophobic bullying. At the same time, misogyny continued to be deeply entrenched in regional culture, and young women were still taught to accept parts of this as just the way things were. Some efforts were underway by organizations like Fundación Triángulo but their programs were often limited and were not present at most schools, especially schools in rural areas.

Lesbians were sometimes using dating apps, especially in rural areas where 45% of lesbians used such apps during the 2010s, to try to meet other women. Almost all the women found dating apps to not be useful as they often encouraged one night stands and other types of relationships, when what these women were really looking for were relationships that would allow emotional intimacy.

Ministra de Sanidad Ana Mato’s made comments in July 2013 about how the lack of having a man was not a reproductive health issue requiring assistance in public health. She made the comments during a meeting with regional health ministers, Andalucía, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Asturias and the Canary Islands put forth a proposal to deal with the social reality that single women and lesbian couples need access to reproductive assistance in public health. This was rejected by the Ministero de Salud in July 2013. Some regions, including Extremadura, decided that despite the national government’s view, they would offer reproductive health services to lesbians and single women anyway, viewing it as a right to family that these women were entitled to. Extremadura President José Antonio Monago made the announcement in September 2013, saying he was breaking with the national government and the regional would fund fertility treatment for lesbians and single women in public health. At the time of Mato’s announcement, private infertility treatments could range between €2000 and €50000 in extreme cases. IVI, a major reproductive clinic, saw an increase of 106% consultations for single women and 123% for lesbian couples.

The documentary about lesbians in Extremadura, Los versos de Safo, premiered at the 2013 edition of Festival de Cine Gay y Lésbico de Extremadura held in November, with the first showing taking place at the Casa de la Mujer in Cáceres on 9 November. The film was directed by Diego González, and was produced by FanCineGay, Fundación Triángulo Extremadura and Dosde Extremadura Media.  It then went on to be shown at other events in the region and in talks organized by Fundación Triángulo.  

During the mid-2010s, lesbians in rural Extremadura continued to be largely invisible and marginalized. Language allowed these lesbians to talk about themselves in such a way that allowed them to remain largely closeted when they chose to be so. The social fabric of rural communities often just assumed that two women living together were just friends because heterosexual societal assumptions could not concieve of their relationship, even during that time period. Lesbians in rural Extremadura would often fail to disclose to their gynecologists that they were same-sex attracted despite the implications for their own sexual and reproductive health. Despite this, some rural women did come out of the closet though the decision to do so remained deeply personal; some lesbians came out of the closet when they were in their teens and others did not emerge from the closet until their 40s.

Lesbian Visibility Day 2017

37-year-old Silvia Tostado Calvo and 30-year-old Noelia Velarde Calle from Don Benito gave birth to a daughter named Julia in June 2013 as a result of Extremadura giving lesbian couples access to reproductive assistance in public health. If the couple had been living in other regions with the exception of Andalucía and Asturias, it would not have been possible. Fundación Triángulo said in 2015 that the national government cut made no sense using a financial rational because less than 4% of the LGBT community were likely to utilize the service.

In July 2014, the Universidad de Extremadura announced they were withdrawing teaching materials that were homophobic that were still being used in one of the degree programs being taught. The text being withdrawn implied that the gay lifestyle was unhealthy and that some homosexuals freed themselves of it and were now ex-gays. The material had been denounced by students in July 2014, including on social media, as it was being used as part of the virtual campus. The complaints were then picked up by the student organization AssambleaUEx Badajoz, who mentioned them on Twitter and Facebook. The UNEX University Ombudsman initially said they had not received a formal complaint before backtracking after the complaints gained momentum. The sociology teacher who included the material was later investigated as her selection of the homophobic material appeared deliberate.

Ley de Igualdad Social y contra la Discriminación de Lesbianas, Gais, Bisexuales, Transgéneros, Transexuales e Intersexuales was registered in the Asembla de Extremadura in January 2015. The law guaranteed public financing both for lesbians wanting reproductive assistance through public health in the region and for sex changes in public health. The local LGBT community had been fighting for both goals for 20 years. It was expected to pass and become law in May 2015.

Local town halls in Villanueva de la Serena, Don Benito, Vivares, Plasencia and Villanueva del Fresno made the gesture of creating rainbow pedestrian crossings in honor of Orgullo in June 2015.  This was a year where such gestures by municipal governments faced large amounts of scrutiny after the Partido Popular national led government said town halls should not fly the rainbow flag for Orgullo as it does not apply to everyone.  Mérida had a similar crosswalk, installed by a PSOE led town hall, which the local branch of Partido Popular asked to be removed, citing security concerns.

Fundación Triángulo and Extremadura Entiende held a press conference in June 2015 in Mérida to ask the government to develop a framework to fight LGBTphobia. Orgullo 2015 Extremadura in Mérida had the motto, “Por la igualdad real ya”. It was organized by Extremadura Entiende. The poster for the event featured Pedro Zerolo who had died not long before. Extremadura Entiende had worked with Asamblea Feminista de Cáceres since at least 2015. The group is part of Spanish fourth wave feminism. The general assembly of Extremadura Entiende was held in the town on 24 October 2015, and Sisi Cáceres Rojo was selected as the new president of the organization. At the same meeting, Marisa González Galán was elected as vice president, María del Carmen Martínez Viloria was elected secretary, and Ana Carmen Fraile Tejedor was elected treasurer. The positions were for two years.

The Los Palomos de Badajoz fiesta against discrimination based on sexual orientation was in its fifth edition in 2015 and attended by 20,000 people. It was the first edition held after the region based anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation or gender identification. The event was organized by Fundación Triángulo. A manifesto was read out for the event condemning discrimination based on sexual orienation or gender identity, and praising the process of finally getting the regional law passed. Because the event coincided with International Lesbian Visibility Day, additional references to lesbians were made, including highlighting the double discrimination faced by lesbians and calling on the national government to reverse the decision not to support reproductive assistance to lesbians in public health because lesbians should have the ability to go anywhere in the country they want to become mothers.

The annual caravana de mujeres, a movement started around 1990 intended to bring women to more rural parts of Spain to find male partners to help keep rural parts of Spain populated, was being criticized by the 2010s across Spain. In 2015, one such Caravan was scheduled to leave from Madrid on 18 April, taking 55 single women for the the price of €50 including transport, lunch, dinner and a trip to a discoteca and at Hotel Romero de Mérida. The trip was criticized by a number of groups in Extremadura, including Instituto de la Mujer de Extremadura (IMEX), Asociación Malvaluna and Fundación Triángulo. It was a topic where feminists and the LGBT community were united in opposition, even if their rationales for doing so were different.

Lesbian Visibility Day.

Instituto de la Mujer de Extremadura hosted an International Lesbian Visibility Day event in 2016. A presentation was given by Mujer de Extremadura director Elisa Barrientos and Extremadura Entiende president Sisi Cáceres Rojo ahead of a planned jornada associated with the day in Casar de Cáceres the following day.

Other institutional efforts to address topics near lesbians also took place. The I Pleno escolar contra el bulling por LGBTIfobia was celebrated by the Asamblea de Extremadura in 2016. The initiative was about reducing bullying of LGBT people and reducing LGBTphobia among secondary school students in Extremadura. The program was given an award by the European Parliament for its innovative nature. At the same time this government initiative was run, Red extremeña de Pueblos contra la homofobia y la transfobia was created in 2016 in Extremadura to try to reduce homophobia and transphobia in rural Extremadura.

A number of jornadas and conferences that related to lesbians were held in 2016. Casar de Cáceres hosted a jornada on 16 and 17 April 2016 in honor of the International Day of Lesbian Visibility. The event was supported by Instituto de la Mujer de Extremadura and Extremadura Entiende. Extremadura Entiende organized Jornadas Estatales de Educación in Mérida in 2016.

FanCineGay screened two movies featuring lesbians in the 2016 edition of the event. Los versos de Safo was screened at the Casa de la Cultura in Villanueva de la Serena and El Verano de Sangailè was screened on 9 November 2016 at the Sala Verdugo.

During the late 2010s, the city of Cáceres saw a resurgence of hate speech aimed at homosexuals in the city. One of the consequences of that is that it prevented high school girls from coming out of the closet out of fear of social marginalization. People would stare at lesbian couples walking arm-in-arm or holding hands as they walked down the streets of the city in late 2010s. Some of this was in part because lesbians were just not that visible in the city, and people were not used to seeing them going about their daily lives in the same way they would see straight couples doing so.

In mid-June 2017, the monument Los colores de Mérida was inaugurated in the city in Parque de las VII Sillas. A few days later, the monument was defaced in a homophobic attack that involved hammers and a radial saw. The attack was condemned by Extremadura Entiende and Fundación Triángulo Extremadura. Mérida Mayor Antonio R. Osuna called for a demonstration at the Plaza de la Diversidad to stop homophobia on 21 June 2017 in response to the attack.

A pair of murals featuring the LGBT colors in Pizarro were defaced with white paint on 7 September 2017. The murals had been put up on 28 June 2017 in celebration of Orgullo. The murals were created as part of a project titled “Administración Local, compromiso global” run by Fundación Triángulo Extremadura and Red de Pueblos Extremeños. Fundación Triángulo Extremadura considered the defacement a hate crime and asked for the case to be treated as such. The Ayuntamiento de Pizarro worked to immediately restore them.

More conferences about lesbians or near lesbian space were organized in Extremadura in 2017. Fundación Triángulo organized a conference in 2017 to coincide with International Women’s Labor Day in Badajoz titled “Las mujeres y la igualdad LGTBI” that ran from 8 to 11 March. It was held on the campus of the Universidad de Extremadura in the building of the Facultad de Educación. Among the attendees were Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela deputy Tamara Adrián and Peruvian activisist and Articulación de Lesbianas Feministas member Marivel Saldaña. The conference had no lesbian specific discussion. Lesbians were always included alongside transsexuals and bisexual women. At the end of 2017, Mérida hosted the VI Encuentro Estatal de Familias de Lesbianas, Gais, Bisexuales y Transexuales con hijas e hijos. The conference was organized by the Familias LGBTI group in Fundación Triángulo.

              Institutional support for lesbians increased in 2017. In 2017, at the request of Extremadura Entiende, Consejo de la Mujer de Extremadura starts institutionally celebrating International Lesbian Visibility Day in the region. The Instituto de la Mujer (IMEX) in Extremadura celebrated International Lesbian Visibility Day in 2018 on 26 April with participation by the Consejo Extremeño de Participación de las Mujeres in an event organized by Extremadura Entiende. IMEX viewed supporting the day as no different than support 8 de Marzo events or 25 de Noviembre events. The region was the first to celebrate the day via an act.

The Junta de Extremadura’s Instituto de la Mujer (IMEX) said they had competency regarding the double discrimination of lesbians and bisexual women because of their sexual orientation and gender. In 2018, their complimentary activities including celebrating the Jornadas de Visibildad Lésbica in Navalmoral de la Mata on 21 and 22 April. The lesbian visibility event was transwomen inclusive. The event also wanted to give rural populations an idea about the reality of life for lesbians, bisexual women and transwomen to improve their acceptance in private and public spaces. The event was organized by Extremadura Entiende and finances by the Consejería de Cultura e Igualdad with a budget of €2660.35.

The Instituto de la Mujer (IMEX) in Extremadura was involved with Orgulla 2018 Caceres, with the motive of trying to make the LGBT population in that region more visible like they are in cities like Mérida. None of their objectives related to Orgullo were specific to lesbians or bisexual women. They did have a project funded called Teatro lésbico “Arriba o Abajo” along with two other projects including “Victor XX” and “Call Me By Your Name”. The budgeted €6000 for the event. Pride that year was a concentration that took place on 22 June 2018 at Parque del Rodeo de Cáceres, and included a reading of the manifesto.

Orgullo took place in other cities in Extremadura in 2018. Under the slogan Transformando Extremadura, the first manifestación LGBTI was held in Extremadura in 2018 in Mérida; previous versions of Orgullo had been concentraciones. It had the highest turnout of any Orgullo celebration held in the region’s history.

Silvia Tostado became the president of Fundación Triángulo Extremadura in 2019. This was a significant moment because of the first time in the region’s history, the two main LGBT organizations in it are led by lesbian women, with the other organization being Extremadura Entiende.

Ley de Igualdad Social de Lesbianas, Gais, Bisexuales, Transgéneros, Transexuales e Intersexuales de Extremadura was unanimously approved by the regional Parliament on 19 March 2019. The final debate on the law was attended by LGTB activists and organizations. The law was presented to the parliament by Partido Popular.

In May 2019, the Tribunal Económico Administrativo de Extremadura (TAE) accepted the appeal of lesbian mother in her ability to receive a maternity deduction as a worker after having been earlier denied because she was not the birth mother. She had appealed to the body after first being denied by the Delegación de la Agencia Tributaria in Mérida. The woman’s successful appeal was the first of its kind in the region, though similar successful appeals had previously happened in Catalonia, Andalucía and Valencia. Two other cases involving lesbian were being examined in Extremadura at the same time, all in Mérida, with one woman who had initially received the benefit being forced to repay it. Activists were happy about the outcome of the appeal because there were no exceptions in the law saying that the mother had to be the birthing mother to qualify. The legal requirements to apply were only that one needed to be woman, a worker and have a child under three years of age. The libro de familia makes no distinction as to who is the birthing mother and who is the other mother. One of the women affected by this decision was María Moruno. Her lawyers debated seeking damages from the tax agency for their discriminatory action.

On a local level, Cáceres, Trujillo and Plasencia all created concejalías de Diversidad LGBTI in 2019 in their local townhalls following local elections that year. Cáceres and Trujillo voted in a PSOE led local government that year, while Plasencia voted in a Partido Popular led townhall. Mérida, who did not create such a role, voted in a PSOE led government while Badajoz, who also did not create such a role, voted Partido Popular.

Orgullo 2019 Extremadura, held as a manifestación for the second time, had representatives from Plena inclusión Extremadura. Over 100 members from the group, representing people with intellectual disabilities, were part of Orgullo and were present at the joint reading of the Orgullo manifesto by Sara Alegre and Juan Pedro Sánchez in Plaza de España in Mérida. No specific mentions were made to women or lesbians are it related to the group’s participation in Orgullo.

In 2019, Extremadura Entiende was looking to expand and add a physical presence in Cáceres and eventually did so, while also closing its space in Merida. The group had engaged in programming in secondary schools to try to combat hatred against LGBT people. They had also become a member of FELGTB.

Almendralejo, Valencia del Ventoso, Zalamea de la Serena, Casar de Cáceres, Plasencia, Torrejoncillo and Madina de las Torres played host to a traveling exhibition in the early 2020s titled, “Stories of Resistance” organized by Fundación Triángulo Extremadura in collaboration with the Agencia Extremeña de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AEXCID). The exhibit told the stories of LGBTI people in Extremadura and the surrounding provinces fleeing persecution of homosexuality. One of the stories featured was that of a lesbian who fled El Salvador after her sexual orientation led to persecution in her local barrio near the capital.

Between 1 January and 1 May 2020, there were seven LGBTI-phobic attacks, most being homophobic attacks, reported to the Oficina de Atención a Víctimas del Servicio Plural, of which only one was denounced to the police. Two of the cases involved a transwoman and a third involved a bisexual man. In some cases, people feared going to the police because they did not believe the police would take their complaint seriously or they feared that reporting an attack to the police would result in additional harassment, especially on social media.

The Junta de Extremadura spokesperson and consejera de Igualdad Isabel Gil Rosiña met with a delegation from in Mérida in February 2020 representing violence against lesbians, bisexual women and transwomen in the Colombian Caribbean, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The delegation included tax advisor of the Office for the Integration and Articulation of the Gender, Childhood and Adolescence Approach of Colombia, Elisabeth Chaverra, and with the director of the Caribbean organization Affirmative, Wilson Castaneda. The meeting was also attended by Fundación Triángulo President Silvia Tostado. The group discussed the results from a €389000 project funded by Agencia Extremeña de Cooperación Internacional al Desarrollo (AEXCID) named Enterezas that looked at violence against lesbians, bisexual and transwomen in Colombia, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua which had gotten underway in January 2019 and created two jobs in Extremadura.

Comisión 19M, Extremadura Entiende, Euforia, Fundación Triángulo all condemned feminism that excluded transwomen from them in a series of questions appearing on Euforia’s website on 17 May 2020 in honor of International Day against LGTBIQphobia, accusing women who believed in the reality of biological sex of supporting transphobia, upholding patriachial norms and reducing women to their biological functions. None of the organizations mentioned lesbians or homosexuals as part of the LGTBIQ+ despite being asked about in relation to TERFs, and none specifically supported lesbians rights to be exclusively same-sex attracted.

Mujeres LTB – Feminismo y Sororidad was an event organized In December 2020 by Extremadura Entiende and FELGTB with support from the Junta de Extremadura. While women were the focus, much of the conversation focused on how feminism could include transwomen. Lesbians were never addressed as a separate class inside the rainbow, and all presenters were lesbians who included transwomen in their definitions of lesbians. Introductory material did specifically reference transwomen as a class, and their specific persecution as women.

Pilar Milanés Milanés was the president of Extremadura Entiende in 2020. At the time, most of the members were white and either lesbian or bisexual, with few transwomen members. They had been unsuccessfully working to try to change that for a few years, with the lesbian dominant LBT group taking an explicitly queer feminist approach that included transwomen in their sexual orientation.

More stories about lesbians were being shared in 2021, giving names, faces and histories to lesbians in the region outside of the activist ones who often got the most media attention by virtue of their position. Kathy Sánchez is a lesbian from El Salvador. Her story was told as part of the history of resistance exhibition organized by the Fundación Triángulo Extremadura in August 2021. Born around 1990 in San Martín in the capital district of El Salvador, she realized she was a lesbian when she was a 12-year-old. After confessing this to her father, she was mistreated and rejected by her family after conversion therapy failed to work. Her mental health deteriorated and she tried to commit suicide twice. When her sexual orientation became known in her barrio, Sánchez decided to flee to protect her life. She managed to save some money and bought an airplane ticket to Madrid-Barajas, and from there onwards to Talavera de la Reina where she had an acquaintance named Manoli who provided her with a new and accepting family. She also was supported locally by Fundación Triángulo in Caceres, attending their events and growing her support network.

CCOO Extremadura published a statement on 26 April 2021 in honor of Lesbian Visibility Day calling for the 2015 regional LGTBI + social equality law to be applied more often in order to guarantee rights in institutional areas. Despite it being Lesbian Visibility Day, their statement only specifically mentioned lesbians in the name of the day, with the rest of the mentions being to LGTBI+ people; the day was created in Spain in 2008 specifically to bring attention lesbians as a specific class in the rainbow.

A 2021 report by Presupuestos Generales de la Comunidad Autónoma de Extremadura failed to mention lesbians as a separate class impacted by gender. A similar report in 2007 also failed to mention lesbians. Both the 2007 and 2021 reports also failed to look at the impact of other class membership, outside men and women, might impact gendered experience for both groups on areas like immigration status, race and religious affiliation.

Fundación Triángulo Extremadura hosted an August 2021 exhibition titled, “Stories of resistance.” Among the stories told was that of Kathy Sánchez, a lesbian who fled El Salvador for Spain because of persecution based on her sexual orientation.

In August 2021, Iglesia parroquial de El Salvador, in Almoharín posted to their social media that they can converted a lesbian named María away from the lesbian life as a result of bringing her back to the faith. Their post about a parishioner was denounced by Fundación Triángulo Extremadura and several members of the local community, and it was subsequently deleted a few days later. Despite this, the church defended their post saying this sort of conversion happens but is often hidden by the media. The church was supported by members of Vox, who decried their freedom to be free of LGBT propaganda.

2021 in lesbian Extremadura history ended much as history had been for the past five years. Lesbians had some institutional support, but a fair bit of this support was conditional the inclusion of transwomen in lesbian sexuality. LGBT organizations and women’s organizations for LBT women also all included transwomen in lesbian sexuality, despite a long Spanish history present in other regions of Spain of lesbian persecution on the basis of sex and decades of lesbians leaving Extremadura so they could love someone of the same sex. Discrimination against lesbian was still present in wider Extremadura society. On the bright side, there were legal pathways to protect lesbians and judicial pathways were beginning to actively take the side of lesbians. Lesbians were also getting attention, getting named and having their stories told as a result of these types of situations. Alas, sometimes these stories were a result of trauma, be it as a refugee, someone who faced down the tax authorities, or someone going through the struggle to start a family.

Feministas Lesbianas Extremadura became active on social media in March 2022.  Their founding came at a time when most of the dominant lesbian narrative in the region had stopped being intertwined with the broader LGTB and homosexual rights community for around tend years, and instead had lesbians politically grouped as LBT women where lesbian political, social and cultural interests were viewed as being intrinsically intertwined with those of transwomen because state institutions viewed lesbians and transwomen as institutionally both the same type of woman.  This represented a divergence from that narrative, and follows a slow but similar trend of LGB people in Spain trying to separate themselves politically from gender identity politics and the broader transgender community.  Most of this activity though occurred elsewhere in Spain, and was previously almost entirely invisible in the region of Extremadura.

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