Socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (2004 – 2011)

Intro / Context / Background: Slowly working through that history rewrite. What ends up happening is I get diverted by other points, updating other sections worked on previously, snagged on some piece of history needing more context and there we end up… This one is about 30 pages. Book is currently around 218 pages, with two governments left to go. Then I think I’ll do a massive rewrite of the Madrid one along specific themes.

Socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (2004 – 2011)

Spain went to the polls on 14 March 2004 to vote in a new Congreso de Diputados and 208 of the 259 seats in the Senate. Three days before the election, the country had been rocked by nearly simultaneous bombings against the Cercanías train system in the capital which left 192 people dead and over 2,000 people injured. It was the deadliest terror attack in Spanish history, and the deadliest in Europe since the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. The immediate aftermath of the bombing saw Partido Popular and PSOE blame eachother for concealing and distorting evidence to aid their own electoral campaigns. Partido Popular initially blamed the bombing on the Basque separatist group ETA, while PSOE blamed Islamic extremists attacking the country because of Partido Popular’s intervention alongside the United States in Iraq. PSOE’s version was the one that ended up being true, and José María Aznar’s time as President of Spain with a Partido Popular government came to an end as a result of his administration’s handling of the bombing. PSOE increased their total votes nationwide by 3.1 million from the previous elections, securing 164 seats in the Congreso de Diputados while Partido Popular, who had been leading in polling a year before, dropped 7% points and lost 35 seats to finish with 148 seats. The voter turnout of 75.7% was the largest since the Spanish transition to democracy.

Spain again went to the polls on 9 March 2008 to vote in a new Congreso de Diputados, alongside 208 of the 264 seats in the Senate. The elections were called for in late 2007 after an agreement was made between PSOE leader and Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Andalusian president Manuel Chaves to hold the national elections and the Andalucía elections on the same date; the Cortes Generales was dissolved on 15 January 2008 after the agreement came to light.

Politics had become increasingly polarized and focused around PSOE and Partido Popular, with smaller parties proving to be the losers as a result. Consequently, both PSOE and Partido Popular both made electoral gains in 2004 but Partido Popular’s 2.2% swing was not enough to put it ahead of PSOE who saw their own 1.3% increase. PSOE finished with 169 seats, 5 more than 2000, while PP finished with 148 seats, 6 more than 2000. Izquierda Unida lost 3 seats. Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) lost 5 seats. Coalición Canaria–Partido Nacionalista Canario (CC–PNC) lost 1 seat. Chunta Aragonesista (CHA) went from 1 seat to 0 seats. Partido Nacionalista Vasco (EAJ-PNV) also lost a seat, going from 6 to 5. Zapatero’s victory came at a moment when the Spanish economy was just starting a major decline.

The Zapatero era would see a large number of changes politically and legally that would impact the everyday lives of Spanish lesbians. While marriage equality was one of the biggest issues, it was far from the only one with efforts on gender equality finally gaining traction, issues around sexist violence beginning to be addressed in law, and Institutos de Mujeres on the national and local level beginning to address lesbian needs, as lesbians, as homosexuals and as women. A large number of other changes took place within the framework of marriage equality, family rights and reproductive rights that are discussed in the section on that topic.

Efforts to push for gender equality plans and laws continued in the Zapatero era on a regional level, even as battles continued to be fought to address this issue more nationally. From a lesbian perspective, the passage 2005 Catalan Gender Equality plan was pioneering in its explicit inclusion of lesbians.

In 2004, the ley 1/2004 de medidas de protección integral contra la violencia de género[1] passed as a result of PSOE winning the elections. It was the first major law protecting women against gender violence.

Rosa Peris was the director of the Instituto de la Mujer from May 1999 to 2009. She was replaced by Galician Laura Seara in what was described as an administrative change, with the Instituto de la Mujer being moved inside the Ministerio de Igualdad in 2008, a ministry created after the elections earlier that year. Peris was credited with bringing in more diverse voices to the institutional feminism in Spain, including young voices, supporting NGOs in other countries and taking to the streets with feminist activists in defense of women’s rights. Laura Seara held the role until 2011, when she was replaced by Teresa Blat who left the role after Partido Popular came to power. In November 2010, there was a restructuring of various ministries in the Spanish government and the Instituto de la Mujer was moved inside the Ministerio de Sanidad, Política Social e Igualdad through the Secretaría de Estado de Igualdad. In December 2011, there was another restructure of ministries and the Dirección General para la Igualdad de Oportunidades and Secretaría de Estado de Igualdad was abolished. The Instituto was put under the direction of the Dirección General del Instituto de la Mujer. In 2011, the Instituto de la Mujer had a budget of €20 million.

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 is in contrast to some regions where the act would be done in conjunction with Orgullo festivities.

The ley 39/2006 de promoción de la autonomía personal y atención a las personas en situación de dependencia[2] was another important legislative victory for feminists. The law gave increased autonomy of people declared dependent based on reasons like age, illness, physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disability that required assistance from one or more people on a daily basis to carry out regular daily activities. It did so by providing two types of benefits, through government services and through financial payments. From a feminist perspective, this was important as it allowed greater autonomy not only for dependents but also for caretakers by allowing them respite and reducing their own financial burdens associated with caretaking, roles that often fell disproportionately on women and had become increasingly feminized by the early 2000s while also removing women from the workplace and creating situations of underemployment for women. This could sometimes also heavily impact both lesbian and single straight women whose status was viewed as making it easier to obligate them to serve as caretakers.

With the passage of the Ley 3/2007 de Identidad de género by the Congreso de Diputados, transsexuals were then able to change their gender on their DNI. This was not about lesbians, but would create conflicts with some lesbians later as they believed the state was changing the definition of female, which had negative consequences for lesbians and women more generally.

The UN Women opened an office in Madrid 2007 at no cost to the Spanish government with security provided by the organization. The national government only contributed to specific programs it supported. It employed five people. At the time it opened, Spain was one of the largest international donors to the United Nations Office of Women.

CRECUL spoke out against the decision by the Madrid government to cancel the 2008 International Women’s Labor Day march in the city because it coincided with the day of reflection before the elections scheduled for the following day. CRECUL was concerned about reproductive rights that year, specifically lesbian and women’s access more generally to abortions and other reproductive health services.

In 2008, a report titled Visibilidad y participación social de las mujeres lesbianas en Euskadi was published for ombudsman of the Basque Country by Inmaculada Mujika, and consisted of 18 interviews with lesbians in the Basque Country to understand the needs and experiences of this community.

Consejo General de la Psicología de España indicated their agreement with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2009, declaring that homosexuality should not be viewed as a mental health disorder, nor treated through therapeutic intervention. This came 35 years after the APA decision and after 83 studies found that no scientific basis to that a homosexual person’s sexual orientation could be changed.

The Ley de asilo en 2009 resulted in mobility restrictions for refugee and asylum applicants in Ceuta and Melilla imposed by the Secretaría de Estado de Seguridad (SES) in the Ministerio del Interior. These restrictions included making it difficult for asylum seekers to go to other autonomous regions of Spain. The government rationalized these restrictions by saying that both Ceuta and Melilla are located outside the Schengen Zone. The government issued identification card for asylum seekers was not valid for travel to other parts of Spain and the European Union. The courts later ruled the modification to the law contrary to the law; despite this, it continued to be applied.

In December 2009, a gay Iranian man named Ali became the first homosexual asylum seeker to benefit from reforms in Spain’s asylum laws which came into force on 31 October 2009. His application was assisted by COLEGAS.

Historical memory

Efforts had begun in the previous government on both the local and national level to work on historical memory and laws to protect historical memory as it related to gays, lesbians and transsexuals.  It continued in the Zapatero period.

In 2006, the Comisión de Política Social y Empleo de Les Corts Valencianas formally requested that the Gobierno del Estado provide compensation for all people imprisoned for being homosexuals in Francoist Spain, noting that as a group they experience specific repression because of their orientation. At the same time, there was a push for police files of people convicted of violating the 1954 and 1970 laws to be handed over to the archives of Law of Historical Heritage, while at the same time making sure personal details in those records were covered by the Law of Data Protection.

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.

Journalist Emilio Silva and Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory began lobbying in 2002 for historical memory to become law. They lobbied for years before finding success in 2007 finding support from the Zapatero government, with the legislation being named as La Ley de Memoria Histórica. The law critically did not upset the tentative arrangement created during the transition period as it only acknowledged victims, not perpetuators of civil rights violations, repression and violence enacted against the population. The Law 46/1977 and Pacto de Olvido that provided amnesty for members of the Franco regime remained in place.

Ley 14/2007, de 26 noviembre. Ley de patrimonio histórico de Andalucía was a law passed in comunidad autonoma in support of the protection of historical memory of LGBT people in the region.

Historical memory efforts for lesbians, even after the passage of the 2007 Ley de Memoria Histórica have always been fewer in number and much more difficult to do. Gay men had much more visibility in the Franco period and their repression for violating patriarchal norms was much more public and brutal. Lesbians, who already had less visibility, decreased their visibility even further to avoid repression. Those who survived did not discuss things, even as society became more open about the repression people experienced. For stories to emerge in the post 2007 period, people had to have already been aware of those stories to share what happened 70 years before and that has proven very elusive for lesbians. What has gotten passed down has largely been broad strokes, larger impersonalized narratives. The nature of these stories often makes it difficult for Spaniards, and specifically Spain’s lesbian and gay community, to fully understand what happened during the Spanish Civil War. The advance of time had not allowed for more stories, more personalized stories, to be shared; lesbian experiences during this period just ceased to exist.

The Spanish government passed a law in 2009 providing compensation to gays, lesbian and transsexuals people who were imprisoned as a result of 1933 Ley de Vagos y Maleantes and 1970 Ley de Peligrosidad Social.  Very few lesbians would take advantage of the law, with only one known case of a lesbian, M.C.D., claiming compensation.

M.C.D., a lesbian imprisoned for being a homosexual in 1974, filed a complaint with the Spanish government on 15 October 2009 as part of the process to be compensated for her homosexuality related incarceration. Her claim, successfully awarded in 2012, was unique because she was the first lesbian to seek compensation. Of her request for compensation, M.C.D. said, “The important thing is to remember so that it does not repeat itself, since sometimes it seems that we are going backwards.” She refused to divulge more personal details including her full name and where she resided out of a desire to protect herself and her current partner, as M.C.D. feared potential harassment and discrimination resulting from the claim. While members of the broader LGBT community hoped M.C.D.’s actions would lead to more lesbians coming forward to make claims as part of a broader desire to reclaim dignity for lesbians in the Francoist period, none did.

Modern researchers have been unable to determine the extent of homosexual, both male and female, persecution in much of Aragon during the Franco period because the records are kept in the Archivo Municipal de La Muela in La Muela, Zaragoza. Researchers have been denied access to these materials in the 2010s and early 2020s as public access is not allowed. The situation in Valencia during the Franco period is also largely hidden despite historical memory laws because of the juntas de expurgo in courts in Valencia in periods where the regional government was controlled by the right have expunged almost all the records related to the Juzgados de Vagos y Maleantes de Valencia. This contrasts to Andalucia where the records are much more available and it is easier to get an idea of what life was like for lesbians in this period.

Based on a real-life story, the film Electroshock was released in 2007; it depicted lesbian life in Francoist Spain, including the impact of imprisonment and electroshock conversion therapy on women.

Everyday life

Lesbian life continued to have moments of difficulty across Spain.  The financial crisis reduced resources.  Attacks on lesbians happened around Spain, and got local and national media attention. Lesbians faced identity issues when they had children. Rural lesbians continued to have move to big cities to avoid discrimination or travel to big cities to have social opportunities.  In big cities, lesbians who did not fit the traditional mold of women in Spanish society faced their own problems and stigmatization.  Lesbian social opportunities also had issues, with lesbian bars struggling to stay open.

The 2008–2014 Spanish financial crisis resulted in the closure or reduction in size in a lot of LGTB spaces that lesbians shared and used in Toledo. This made it harder to socialize, connect and find ways to cope with potential discrimination. It created another wave of emigration of lesbians from Toledo and nearby areas to Madrid as part of efforts to seek a better life.

On 23 October 2006, a Bimenes, Asturias resident aged 31 with the initials JP C of Martimporra was arrested for a homophobic against a young lesbian couple during a local celebration. He started with reprimanding them for being lesbians being lesbians, then moved on to insulting the couple and finished with him punching and kicking them. Two friends who witnessed the situation came to their aid, and were also attacked by the aggressor. The situation was eventually broken up by other neighbors attending the festival. On 11 November 2006, around two hundred people showed up at a protest in front of the Martimporra town hall to condemn a homophobic attack against a pair of lesbians by a resident of the town in October 2006. Participants chanted slogans condemning homophobia. Xega helped organize the protest.

For lesbians in the late 2000s and 2010s, the decision to have a child and getting pregnant could force them out of the closet as they often felt the need to explain co-parenting situations to their own families or explain the process of becoming pregnant. This coming out process was important as they wanted their children to be situated inside their own families. Motherhood for lesbians sometimes then was a journey home from families they had left before because of issues like homophobia.

In 2007, lesbians were still often afraid to come out of the closet. Many feared being criticized or being defined only by their sexuality. At the same time, many also viewed their sexuality as a private, intimate topic that should not be on public display.

When gays and lesbians in Arnedo, La Rioja wanted to get away and get more social opportunities in 2009, they often headed to Calahorra or Logroño. For young gays and lesbians without a car, this made life very difficult as there were no gay bars or other places where they could be out without fear.

In the 2010s, there were a lot of lesbians living in barrio de Salamanca in Madrid who did not fit the heteronormative ideals for women, this despite the fact that district was the home to Partido Popular and Vox.

In the late 2010s, Chueca had become a space that was not very welcome to racialized lesbians, working class whites and lesbians who were on the margins of society. It was also not a space that was friendly for transwomen.

Lesbians continued to suffer more discrimination than gay men in Spain in 2010 because of “discriminación múltiple”, that is they were discriminated against because they were women and homosexuals. The very existence of lesbians continued to create tensions around heteronormative and patriarchal models in Spain in ways that homosexual men did not. This tension came even as lesbians were harmed by patriarchy and made invisible by patriarchy. The existence and visibility of gay men in highly placed positions in society like politicians, businessmen or famous artist was not radical because those men benefitted from those patriarchal norms; lesbians would have been more radical.

On 4 July 2010, the former president of Asociación de Gays y Lesbianas de Ceuta María López was beaten on the streets near Poblado Marinero because she was publicly out on the street. The beating to her head and eyes was so severe that she was required to be hospitalized for treatment. Her attacker was arrested but then soon released despite clear indications that gender violence was an aggravating factor in the attack. His release was condemned by the Asociación de Gays y Lesbianas de Ceuta.

On 23 June 2011, a lesbian couple tried to enter their home in Huelva when met by a neighbor who insulted and degenerated them for being lesbians. The women denounced the neighbor at the police. The neighbor defended himself by saying that it wasn’t because they were lesbians but because the couple’s two dogs had been loud and bothering him for the past three months, and that the dogs had attacked his daughter. A demonstration was held in support of the couple at Juzgado Nº2 del Palacio de Justicia on 6 July 2011.

El Gallinero was a lesbian and women’s bar that opened around 2011 in Madrid. It hosted exhibitions of women’s arts, drag king shows, language exchanges and video performances. It appears to have closed sometime in 2012 and has since been replaced by a bodega.

Yacimientos de Atapuerca is an archeological site with human remains dating back over a million years. There is a small visitor center, and guided tours are offered of the site. In 2011, the center ran an exhibition about homosexuality in the prehistoric period. At least three parts of the exhibit focused on women having sex with women. One showed a stone engraving in the French cave in La Marche that appeared show a woman engaged in cunnilingus on another woman. In the limestone of Laussel’s cave shelter, some 27,000 years ago someone carved two women with their legs intertwined, scissoring each other. At the German site of Gonnersdorf on the banks of the Rhine, there are dozens of drawings showing couples of women.

Casa África hosted an exhibition in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the horrific experiences of black lesbians in Africa in 2011. The exhibition included photographs and art, and was put together by South African photographer Zanele Muholi.

Lexicography of lesbianism

By the early 2010s, there were a number of online and print LGTB dictionaries in Spain. They were most often compilations of words, naming that which was often unnamed in other more traditional Spanish dictionaries. They rarely explored language used by male and female homosexuals in a Spanish context in their own in groups.  Instead, the words defined often were ones about how heterosexuals defined gays and lesbians. They also rarely included new words that were taking root in the community.

Definitions around words related to lesbians continued to evolved, and usage of words related to lesbians often continued to have negative connotations.

The 2008 Diccionario de uso del español de María Moliner was one of the first Spanish dictionaries to define sodomy around male homosexuality, defining sodomía as, “1. Anal intercourse. 2. Male homosexuality. Homosexual. It applies to people who satisfy their sexual sensuality with those of the same sex […].”[3]  Up until the 1960s, dictionaries had largely included women as people who could practice sodomy.  Definitions in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s had then begun to define sodomy around male penetrative anal sex. 

One major lexicographical study was done in the 2010s of the language in Ceuta that picked up phrases around lesbians. It found that chocana, ninfómana, lesbiana, puta, ramera, sulana, and zorra are used in Ceuta in lexicographically similar ways as insults aimed at gender nonconforming women and at gay men. Their usage though is different than the definitions provided by the DRAE. When used against women or gay men, they all suggest feminine defects in the target of speech.

Depictions of lesbians in the popular culture were sometimes a bit sparse compared to the previous period, even as the body of lesbian literature grew.  Lesbians also became increasingly visible in sports, but not without huge struggles.

Hospital Central debuted in April 2000 on TeleCinco. In mid-2004, the character of Ester, played Fátima Baeza, was introduced, starting the show’s major lesbian subplot. A nurse, she eventually finds love with Doctor Maca, played by Patricia Vico, after a process of self-discovery that makes her realize she is a lesbian. The Ester and Maca plotline did a lot to increase the visibility of lesbians in Spain and continues to be one of the few shows where lesbian characters given a happy ending. The show depicted a lot of events that take place in the lives of lesbians, including coming out, dating, infidelity, marriage, and maternity. Despite its positive depictions of lesbianism, the show at times resorted to lesbian clichés.

Ainadamar is an opera by composer Osvaldo Golijov and playwright David Henry Hwang based on the life of Margarita Xirgu Subirá and specifically her friendship with Federico García Lorca. Events in the opera take place in Montevideo, describing events in Madrid, Granada and elsewhere. The actress was Garcia’s muse. A recording of Ainadamar won a pair of Grammy’s in 2007 for Best Opera Recording of 2006, and Best Classical Contemporary Composition. The opera has had limited runs in Spain, debuting in the country at the 2011 Festival Internacional de Música y Danza de Granada on the stage of the Teatro del Generalife in Alhambra, in 2012 at the Festival Internacional de Santander, with a limited run at the Teatro Real in July 2012 Madrid, and at the Teatro Campoamore de Oviedo in late 2013.

While lesbian written literature was much more available in the Rodriguez Zapatero era, its distribution was often limited to small circles of almost exclusively lesbian readers.

Su cuerpo era su gozo by Beatriz Gimeno is a 2005 fiction book based on real events about the repression felt by a lesbian couple who lived during the Franco regime. Originally published in parts in El Pais in 2001, it gave voice to the suffering endured by lesbians who deviated from regime imposed norms. Places that feature in the book include Valencia and Madrid.

Deseo y resistencia by Gracia Trujillo is a 2009 book that looks at the past 30 years of lesbian history in Spain, focusing on the period between 1977 and 2007. The author exams Spanish lesbian feminism in the context of three different wave periods. The book is one of the most important historiographic works detailing Spanish lesbian life in the Democratic transition period. It is only available in Spanish.

Mujeres estupendas by Libertad Morán is 2010 a fiction book narrating Ruth’s unique relationship with Sara in the lonely but hectic lesbian life in Madrid.  The author was a lesbian who was part of the costumbrismo movement.

In the early 2010s, women’s football was not very professional. Women could not make a career of it, needing to get a second job to support themselves. This showed up in the quality of play, making the Spanish women’s team less competitive internationally. This situation continued until the mid-2010s, when La Liga teams began to invest in women’s football. Women who wanted to improve their play or make a career of the sport were often forced to go abroad, to countries like the United States, England and Germany. Lesbians playing in this period included Laura del Río, Mapi León and Lola Gallardo.

Laura del Río, a member of the Spanish women’s national football team born on 5 February 1982 in Madrid, only came out of the closet officially when she started playing abroad, in the United States for FC Indiana in 2008. This was because she feared the potential impact on her professional career in Spain, as while Spain had progressed on the issue of tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, it still made some people uncomfortable. The media would often focus on it. For del Río, being open about it at times was important, because as an elite football player, she wanted to change people’s attitudes towards the sport and make them stop thinking of it only as a men’s game.

Madrid Club de Fútbol Femenino was founded in 2010, starting in the fourth division, moving up to the third division for the 2011-2012 season, second for the 2012-2013 season and first for the 2017-2018 season. Lesbians who have played for the team included Laura del Río, completing two seasons with the club before announcing her retirement as a player.

Lesbians in other sports began to get more visibility in this period, and lesbians began to get more generally involved in a more diverse array of sports.

Marta Mangué is a handball player of Equatorial Guinean who has represented Spain on the national team. She is the second Spanish woman to play handball overseas professionally. Magué finished her Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) at 16 and then decided to continue playing handball professionally, debuting for Sagunto’s Balonmano Mar Sagunto in the top division in the 2000 – 2001 season. It was with the club that she would get her first call up to the Spanish national team, ultimately playing in the 2001 Women’s Handball World Championships in Italy. From there, she went on to play for Cementos La Unión Ribarroja, winning a league title in the 2005 – 2006 season. While she was playing in Valencia, she came out of the closet as a lesbian. Magué moved overseas to play in Denmark for the 2007 season, only the second Spanish woman to play professionally outside Spain. She left Denmark to play in Serbia in 2011. While in Serbia, she would earn a bronze medal with the Spanish national team at the 2012 Summer Olympics. A season and a half later, she moved to the French league where she has played since. Magué moved to France while her wife was pregnant with their first child.

Marriage equality, family and reproductive rights and issues

With a campaign promise by Zapatero to deliver marriage equality, this period started off slowly before everything happened in 2005. Organizations had previously lined up their positions and infrastructure in the Aznar period and just brought it into the new government.  It helped them push through marriage equality in 2005.  After that, the big issues for lesbians in this battle continued to be family rights and reproductive rights, both of which still had not been fully addressed by the marriage equality legislation.  It made the period one of the most active in Spanish history as it related to the changing legal situation for lesbians.

Attitudes in Spain were changing as they related to marriage equality. A World Value Surveys by CIS in 2004 found 66.2% of Spaniards approved of same-sex marriage. 79% considered homosexuality a respectable alternative to heterosexuality. A different study published that year found that only 52% thought society was tolerant homosexuality.

Efforts on the marriage and adoption fronts were also being fought in regional governments and regional courts. In early 2004, the Catalan tripartite government announced their intention to modify the law in the region to allow same-sex couples to adopt.

In February 2004, a lesbian woman was granted shared custody of her partner’s daughters by the Tribunal de Navarra. This was a Spanish first. In response to this and general questions about gay and lesbian adoption, Zapatero said, “Adoption for same-sex couples must have a broad political and social consensus”. The couple, one 38 years old and one 42 years old, were living in a town near Pamplona when their case succeeded. They had been living together since 1999, and had gone to a family planning clinic together. The twin girls were less than a year old at the time the decision was made, and were conceived using assisted fertilization. During that process, the planning clinic said both women were in good physical and psychological health with good social development. Originally, the women tried to conceive with the mother who later went on to adopt but that was unsuccessful so they tried the other woman, with the treatments being successful in that case. It was the first time that a lesbian couple had applied to use custody rights approved by the region’s de facto couples law, a law which had been legally challenged by Partido Popular. The decision was made by Juzgado de Primera Instancia número 3 de Pamplona with Judge Ana Clara Villanueva presiding. She gave others five days to appeal her ruling on 22 January 2004, and no one did. The judge said the women met all the requirements set out by the ley de parejas estables de Navarra.

Some parts of the media had by this period become fully involved in supporting efforts for marriage equality, especially the newspaper El País. In February 2004, Partido Popular tried to introduce legislation that would have legalized civil unions in Spain. El País and FELGT responded by urging voters to vote against Partido Popular because of their particular stance on the issue of marriage equality.

In 2004, FELGTB convened a mass kissing to protest the Catholic Church’s intolerance of homosexuality and Partido Popular’s support of that intolerance outside Catedral de la Almudena. Around 300 gay and lesbian people attended the event.

On 30 June 2004, the Congreso de Diputados provisionally approved a government plan that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.  The legislation was a request led by PSOE in the Congreso de Diputados to ask the executive, Spain’s president, to present a bill a that would allow for modifying civil legislation to allow marriage to include same-sex partners.

On 1 October 2004, after an agreement during a meeting of the Consejo de Ministros, the national government withdrew from the appeal filed by the previous government against the Basque Civil Union Law, which had allowed same-sex couples to adopt children.  The Basques had legalized that in 2003, following Navarre and Asturias who had done that in 2002 and earlier in 2003 respectively. At the same meeting, the Consejo de Ministros also agreed upon a first draft of marriage legislation that would allow for same-sex marriages and adoptions.  The draft legislation also suggested the possibility of the national government possibly regulating de facto couples outside of marriage.  The inclusion of adoption rights in the draft legislation greatly upset the Catholic Episcopal Conference who called the proposal “erroneous and unfair”.  Partido Popular also reacted loudly to the proposed changes, accusing the President of governing for minority groups instead of the majority; Partido Popular renewed their call for allowing civil unions for same-sex couples while also denying same-sex couples adoption rights.  The office of the executive dismissed their proposal.

On 20 December 2004, El País ran an editorial supporting same-sex marriage. In the same edition of the paper, there were also two articles about the repression of homosexuals and transsexuals during the Franco regime. The paper argued in part that marriage equality was part of redressing historical wrongs committed against the homosexual community in Spain.

The government approved the draft legislation without any significant changes from the October version on 30 December 2004.  Despite opposition from Partido Popular and the Catholic Church, adoption rights were left in.  They sent the text to the Cortes for parliamentary processing.

One of the big issues for lesbian feminists in 2005 was changes to the laws regarding access to reproductive assistance, namely that the law be amended to allow a woman to use eggs from her partner in using in vitro fertilization. The law at the time prevented that, allowing only the use of anonymous donors unless a couple was married. Further, they also wanted the law amended so that partners were granted filiation rights regardless of marital status, with such rights already existing for cohabitating heterosexual couples. This trumped the issue of marriage rights in importance for lesbian feminists.

In 2005, Partido Popular proposed a Civil Union law. Their law offered to create a legal parallel relationship to marriage but which excluded the adoption of minors. They were criticized for this, with newspapers and members of the LGBT community saying that the time for a solution such as that had passed and that gays and lesbians were entitled to full rights to marriage.

Mariona Rajoy became the leader of Partido Popular in 2004, and then a candidate for President in the 2004 elections. In January 2005, he said in an article in El País of PSOE and same-sex marriage that PSOE “wants to do what nobody has done for that mania to look modern”.

The Comisión de Estudios del Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ) approved a report on the question of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage on 18 January 2005.  The report said it doubted that same-sex marriage was legal, comparing same-sex marriage to civil unions between people and animals.  After the media firestorm over that comparison, the CGPJ apologized the next day.  The report was approved by the CGPJ in a plenary session on 26 January 2005, with seven dissenting votes. This cleared a step towards the ability to for the Congreso de Diputados to take action on the legislation.

On 17 March 2005, the Congreso de Diputados began processing the same-sex marriage bill.  Partido Population and Unió Democrática de Cataluña (UDC) had tried to add amendments to the proposed legislation, but these were rejected.  The bill was then approved by the Cogreso de Diputados in a plenary session on 21 April 2005 by a vote of 183 votes in favor and 167 against.  With the exception of former Partido Popular minister Celia Villalobos who voted in favor, every single member of Partido Popular and UDC voted against the bill.

In April 2005, Partido Popular’s Mariano Rajoy continued his public criticism of PSOE’s efforts on same-sex marriage saying, “There is no reason and no one understands why Spain has to take the lead in these things.”[4]

Javier Gómez was identified in El País as the coordinator of the Gay and Lesbian Group within Partido Popular in 2005. He was also the treasurer of FELGTB. Gómez said that same-sex marriage had been supported by some in the party prior to 2005, but that it just had not leaked out to the general public with party conflicts over the issue being kept private.

In late April 2005, Pontifical Council for the Family President Cardinal Alfonso López Portillo said Catholics in positions to celebrate civil marriage had a duty to refuse their work if it required performing same-sex marriages and they much be willing to lose their job in defense of that position.

Colombian Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo and Pontifical Council for the Family President suggested municipal officials refuse to marry couples of the same sex. Vice President María Teresa Fernández de la Vega responded to such comments urging government employees not to follow the law with a reminder that such officials are obligated to comply with the law.

The Episcopal Conference requested on 18 June 2005 that Catholics participate in a large demonstration in opposition to the proposed same-sex marriage legislation. The event was by Foro Español de la Familia, with 20 bishops participating. The march was supported by Partido Popular.

On 20 June 2005, psychopathology professor Aquilino Polaino made the controversial that homosexuality was a pathology on the floor of the Senate, appearing there in support of a proposal by Partido Popular.  As a result of the session in the Senate, Partido Popular manage to require that the Congreso de Diputados secure an absolute majority or it would be vetoed.

On 22 June 2005, the bill was voted on in a plenary session of the Senate; members of Partido Popular and Unió Democrática de Cataluña voted against it, with neither party’s representatives changing their vote after the events in the Congreso de Diputados.  Nonetheless, an absolute majority was attained despite additional opposition from three senators from Convergencia Democrática de Cataluña and one from Partido Aragonés, with the final vote 134 in favor and 131 against.

A plenary session of the Congreso de Diputados took place on 30 June 2005 to vote on the same-sex marriage bill. It passed with 187 votes in favor, 147 against and 4 abstentions, enough to lift the veto by nine and definitively approved the law.  Those who voted in favor of the law included PSOE, PNV, ERC, Canarian Coalition, IU-ICV, Grupo Mixto, two deputies from Convergencia Democrática de Cataluña and Partido Popular Deputy Celia Villalobos.  It came into force on 3 July 2005. 

Immediately before the passage of the law in the Congreso de Diputados, Partido Popular leader Mariano Rajoy asked to have the floor but was procedurally denied by Congreso de Diputados Preisdent Manuel Marín who said the opposition cannot open debate unless some “contradictory element” had been introduced to legislation or some direction allusion to such had been made in the legislation and that had not occurred. Rajoy then returned to his seat among Partido Popular members and Marín called for the vote.

El País praised Spain on 1 July 2005 after making same-sex marriage legal by saying in an editorial that Spain’s position made it prominent in the world in defending the rights of women. The editorial also said, “A feature of rationally ordered and democratic societies is to provide minorities with the same rights, with the same degree of legal protection and institutional protection enjoyed by majorities.”[5]

The first same-sex wedding in Spain took place on 11 July 2005 in Tres Cantos and was between two men. Most of the early celebrity same-sex marriages in Spain were between gay men, not lesbians. These include PSOE leader and councilor Pedro Zerolo  in October 2005, presenter Jesús Vázquez and Roberto Cortés in November 2005, FELGT President Beatriz Gimeno in December 2005, presenter Boris Izaguirre  and Rubén Nogueira in February 2006.

After the passage of the marriage equality law in 2005, there was an immediate question to the Ministerio de Justicia of the implications for foreigners. The determination was made that at least one of the participants in the marriage needed to be a Spanish citizen, regardless of the other person’s homeland, or both people needed to be legal residents residing in Spain.

When adoption rights for same-sex couples were finally be recognized by law in 2005, they were bundled along with marriage equality. Campaigners at the time understood that both had to be at the same time as there might not be time later to do them separately. Consequently, after the passage of the marriage law, lesbians who were in couples who wished to have children together often got married despite their opposition to the practice or being ambivalent about the practice because marriage was the only way to insure that both mothers had familial rights.

Ángeles Álvarez Álvarez, a Spanish politician and feminist activist, became the first woman to publicly serve in the Congreso de Diputados as a lesbian in 2011. In 2005, she married Teresa Heredero in a ceremony officiated by Pedro Zerolo; the couple were the first lesbians in Madrid to marry following the legalization of same-sex marriage in Spain.

In September 2005, President of the Comunidad de Madrid Esperanza Aguirre said in a television interview that while the law was actually unconstitutional, “Politically it is not going to be understood as a matter of constitutionality but as an attack on homosexuals”. The comment laid open conflicts within the upper ranks of Partido Popular over the party’s legal challenge to the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.

In September 2005, El País reported Aznar said that his party, Partido Popular, never presented a marriage equality bill while he was in office because there was never any great outpouring of public demand for such legislation. At the same time, Mariano Rajoy defended his decision to appeal the legislation in the courses because of “commitment of Ángel Acebes and the most Catholic wing of the Party”, not because he personally wanted to appeal it.

At the Cáceres campus of the Universidad de Extremadura from 13 – 14 October 2005, the I Congreso Universitario sobre Adopción Homoparental took place. It included presentations, workshops, round tables.

By the end of 2005, same-sex marriages accounted for 1.1% of all marriages that took place that year. According to FELGT data, there were 4,500 same-sex marriages by the end of the year, 80% of them involving gay men. Three couples for divorce, and fifty couples initiated the process to adopt, though forty of these involved lesbian couples who had already had children together through artificial insemination.

In 2006, same-sex marriages accounted for 2.2% of all marriages that took place that year. The average age for lesbians getting married across the whole of Spain was 40. This compared to the average of almost 31 for heterosexual women getting married the same year. Academics have speculated the cause for the major discrepancy in age was that many older lesbian couples took advantage of marriage equality to get married after having been previously denied the ability to do so. In 2007, same-sex marriages accounted for 1.6% of all marriages that took place that year. In 2008, they were 1.8% of all marriages that took place that year. The following year, the accounted for 1.9% of all marriages.

With same-sex marriage and adoption rights secured by national law in July 2005, lesbian legal issues on family rights turned to deal with reproductive issues. This includes access to specific reproductive techniques by lesbian couples, and being part of broader feminist efforts to ban the commodification of women’s bodies through charging money to become pregnant and produce children that may not be related to the person or couple paying.  Even with rights secured in law, lesbians still found themselves needing to go to court to enforce their newly attained rights.

The ley de reproducción asistida de 2006 allowed women to access reproductive techniques like artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. The only requirement was that women be of legal age and mentally competent.

Ley 14/2006, de 26 de mayo, sobre técnicas de reproducción humana asistida banned the practice of “rent bellies”[6] in Spain as a result of Chapter 2, Article 10 which says that contracts for pregnancy, with or without a price attached, are void, that children born from such contracts have the children affiliated with the woman who gave birth to them, and the possibility of paternity claims based on existing laws. Article 5 of the same law said that donations of eggs and sperm had to be anonymous. This created a gray zone for lesbian couples, with lesbians able to give eggs to their partner as part of assisted reproduction, using the ROPA method.

The Registro Civil in Algeciras recorded two lesbians as parents on the birth certificate after one gave birth to a child conceived using IVF.  The women were married following the passage of the same-sex marriage law in July 2005, and allowed that as a result of changes to the law.  They were the first women in Spain to use the law. Galician law for the first time addressed the Subrogation rights of same-sex partners who were not married to or in a pareja de hecho as it related to leased properties with Ley 2/2006.

A judge from Murcia named Fernando Ferrín Calamita was given special disqualification by the Consejo General del Poder Judicial (CGPJ) for ten years in 2009 as a result of intentionally and maliciously slowing down the ability of a married lesbian woman to adopt the biological child of her spouse conceived through artificial insemination. The couple had started adoption proceeding in 2006.

After the passage of the marriage law in Spain, married lesbian mothers who utilized reproductive techniques had two libros de familia. One was for the marriage. The other was for the children. The law required the non-birthing mother to formally adopt her wife’s child born inside the marriage as affiliation was not automatic until a provision was added on 15 March with LO3/2007 in the gender identity law. Lesbian couples who wanted filiation rights at the time of birth were required to have documentation from a fertility center that said they both consented to the birth of a child in order for the child to be recognized as both, even if the mothers were married to each other.

The Ley de Reproducción Asistida de 2007 banned single women and lesbians from accessing reproductive services in public health because the lack of having a man was not view by the then government representative Ministra de Sanidad Ana Mato as a medical problem.

Marriage rights still needed monitoring and protecting even a year and a half after they were secured. In February 2007, Foro Español de la Familia with support from Partido Popular tried to put forth a proposal in the Congreso de Diputados that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.  The Congreso de Diputados refused to allow this initiative to go further.

A 2008 study of adolescent attitudes towards marriage equality in Spain found that 76.5% of boys and girls were accepting of it, ranging between 65 to 80% of the different cohorts believing homosexual relationships had legitimacy. This compared to only 20 to 30% of Spanish adolescents survey who rejected the legitimacy of homosexual relationships.

The law in Melilla for the first time addressed the Subrogation rights of same-sex partners who were not married to or in a pareja de hecho as it related to leased properties on 28 January 2008.

The Asamblea de 28 de enero de 2008 passed a civil union bill in Melilla. The legislation said the unions were for “non-marital unions of stable coexistence between couples, regardless of their sexual orientation”.[7]

The civil registry in Castilla y León was amended to be further regulated via Orden FAM/1597/2008 on 22 August 2008. It allowed three types of registrations, Inscripciones básicas, Inscripciones marginales and and Inscripciones complementarias. The first was for the existence of the union, the second for modification of basic registration data of the union but not its dissolution, and the last was regulatory contracts of a personal nature to modify the conditions of the union.

With relationship rights also came the need to partner violence. In 2009, centro Aldarte de atención a gays, lesbianas y transexuales asked the Spanish parliament to amend the laws related to family violence to allow same-sex partner violence to be tabulated.

The civil registry in Castilla y León was amended to be further regulated via Orden FAM/1036/2010 on 5 July 2010. This amendment required that those who did not have Spanish nationality were required to prove Spanish residency rights before being able to apply for a civil union.

Reforms were made to Spain’s abortion laws in 2010.  These reforms were ones that many lesbians active in the feminist movement had been working on. They allowed abortion for any reason in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion was also allowed up to 22 weeks if they were a serious risk of life or health to the pregnant woman, if they were serious fetal abnormalities or if their were abnormalities that meant the fetus could not survive outside the womb. It also allowed girls 16 and older to have an abortion without parental consent, though girls 16 and older were still required to inform their parents except in situations where there was a risk of family violence.  Girls who were 15 and younger were still required to obtain parental consent before getting an abortion. The law came into force on 5 July 2010.

Between 2005 and 2010, 76.8% of the same-sex marriages involved women from Spain, with 23.2% of the women involved having been born overseas. The percentage of overseas births was lower than male-male marriages at 35.8% but higher than opposite-sex females at 13.7%. When it came to nationality, 16.8% of the women involved in same-sex marriages were forigners, compared to 27.9% for gay men and 12.3% for straight women. Spanish lesbians were marrying later than their straight women peers, with 35.8% of the marriages being for women between the ages of 25 – 34, and 46.8% for ages between 35-49 compared to straight women at 66.7% and 18.8% respectively. In 2010, same-sex marriages accounted for 2.1% of all marriages that took place that year.

Danielle Nicole Mboume is a lesbian from Cameroon. She was one half of the first undocumented lesbian couple to marry in Spain. Mboume arrived in Ceuta on a boat on 21 July 2010, applied for asylum on 9 August 2010 and was soon recognized as a refugee. Once in Ceuta, Mboume was offered in France which she took, only to return to Ceuta after finding it was actually a hostess position and traveling to 7 different European Union countries and finding only similar “opportunities.” Upon her return, she continued her education and eventually became a humanitarian aid reception technician for the NGO CEPAIM. In 2012, she married Ingrid Rosselyne M from Guinea whom she met in the Congo on her journey towards Spain in Ceuta. At the time, the women were living in Getafe and both were 21-year-olds. They had moved to Getafe to escape discrimination from other immigrants in the city. Their marriage made national news as they were the first undocumented African lesbian couple to marry in Spain. As of 2018, they remained the only African women to marry. In 2018, she published a book about her experiences.

A study was carried out between 2011 and 2012 involving 20 self-identified lesbians from Andalusia, 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.

A lesbian couple in Castellón de la Plana began the process to try to have a child in 2011 using reproductive assistance in public health, with Mar Martínez believing the process would take two years to complete. Within three months though, she received a call that the service had been discontinued. They ended up having to go through private health for parts of the procedure. They were one of the last lesbian couples to successfully access the service.

The IV encuentro de familias LGBT was held in Hervás, Extremadura 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.

In 2011, same-sex couples represented around 3.3% of all registered couples in Spain. By the end of 2011, FELGTB estimated that more than 23,000 same-sex marriages had taken place in Spain since marriage had become legal.


Lesbian involvement in the feminist movement appeared to be on the decline in this period.  If not on the decline, lesbian visibility in the movement was much less than it had been in the past, with scant attention being given in academic papers about lesbians.  Part of this could have been a result in the shift of Spanish feminism itself, with parts becoming much more queer friendly and less hostile to commodification of women’s bodies and the need to seek legal address than in the past.  Other reasons may include lesbians who were involved in the radical feminist circles were active on bigger issues like marriage equality and reproductive rights.  In any case, after marriage equality was achieved in 2005, the lesbian community asked itself, “Now what?”

A 2006 and 2007 survey of women attending primary care centers for treatment had experiences violence against women found that Ceuta, Melilla and the Balearic Islands had the highest incident rates in all of Spain, with 40.2%, 40.2% and 32.5% of women experiencing partner violence respectively.

The December 2007 Jornadas de Políticas Lésbicas in San Sebastián included militant lesbian and philologist Angie Simonis. CLF was still active in 2008. It was one of the few feminist lesbian groups from the early 1980s to survive the decade and the dark period of the 1980s. International Lesbian Visibility Day was celebrated in Spain starting on 26 April 2008. In September 2008, a rally was organized by Rede de Mulleres Veciñais outside Museo MARCO. Among the groups participating in the protest was Nos Mesmas.

Queer lesbianism and bolero feminism

            The dominant form of feminism and activist lesbianism was in this period was bolero feminism and queer lesbianism.  Both had been around since the midway period of the Felipe González period but a variety of factors discussed earlier had extinguished lesbian involvement in the radical feminist movement, including that parts of Spain’s feminist movement were themselves rejecting radical feminism.

            A number of queer women’s groups would be founded in this period, open to lesbians, bisexual women and transwomen.  They used the acronym LBT to describe themselves, including regional Institutos de la Mujer.  They did not talk about including transmen, nor including those who identified as non-binary[8], and while qenderqueer[9] might have been used as an identity in English speaking countries, it did not appear to be an identity used by lesbians or queer women in these spaces. A lot of bolero feminism and queer lesbianism was also very local, with a fair bit about providing social opportunities and activist opportunities on a very local level.

cyclobollos was a Madrid based blog created in July 2007. The blog focused on the intersection between bolleras and bikers. The blog later became an organization of the same name, and then transformed again as part of the State Coordinator Con Bici. The group would go on to participate in Orgullo Critico. These sort of intersections were one of the important ways that lesbians continued to organize in the late 2000. Similar groups were formed in Valencia with cyclobollers, in Vitoria with kataliñak bizikletan, with a second group in Madrid called Cicliátric and in Barcelona with bicitetas.

Nos Mesmas is an organization for lesbians created in Vigo in 2008, aiming to serve not just the city but the whole province. They quickly became involved in local events and interacted with other similar organizations in the area. They joined Twitter in March 2011. The organization is translesbian friendly, and counted violence against translesbians as homophobic violence instead of transphobic violence.

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.

The 2009 Jornadas Feministas Estatales in Granada included a number of presentations by Conjuntos Difusos about gender binaryism, transfeminism and fighting against transphobia. One presentation at the conference was titled “translesbianismo y otros deseos transdiversos” held in the Espacio de Debate and presented by Juana Ramos and Amets Suess.

Dones i Lesbianes Documentant-se (DILDO) was created in 2009 in Barcelona. They described themselves as distrifeministaqueer, feminist, queer and anti-capitalist. They appear to have disappeared from the city by 2015, and re-emerged in Valencia, were based out of Casa de la Dona at Calle Buenos Aires, 13 and continued to be active in 2021.

The phrase “piedra, papel o bollera” was being used by some lesbians in their activism in the mid-2010s in posters and on t-shirts. It met pushback from transwomen who felt they were not being included as lesbian women.

transfeminists were talking about lesbianas masculinas by the early 2010s as a separate class of people who feminism had ignored and why transfeminism offered more to them as a group them traditional political feminism.

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.

LesBiCat is a group of women, including transwomen, who are lesbians, bisexuals or pansexuals in Catalonia who work from a feminist perspective towards social transformation and increased visibility. Most of their activity is based in Barcelona. The group, created around 2011, branched off from Coordinadora LGTB de Catalunya, an organization that dissolved in 2013. They have organized events for the International Lesbian Visibility day in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. They have also organized events for International Bisexual Day in 2015.

LGTB intersections with lesbianism

            When LGTB organizations in Spain interacted with lesbians in this period, it was often around a few key areas. The first was in creating mixed group organizations that lesbians could join.  The next was in providing activities and activist opportunities for lesbians in mixed group organizations.  The last was addressing lesbians as part of a group in response to homophobic violence or discrimination because violence against one member of the rainbow had implications for all other groups, including lesbians, in the rainbow.  With marriage equality being the overriding issue early in this period, direct engagement specific to lesbians by these groups was often very minimal.  One of the major accomplishments of this period was activism appeared to increase nationwide, with more regional and rural areas getting LGTB organizations,

The historiography of the LGBT movement in Spain as a whole, and of lesbianism in particular, was largely absent from LGBT discourse, even as late as the late 2000s. Academics including Ricardo Llamas lamented on this fact. Particularly lacking was a history of the homosexual rights movement in the Democratic transition period, with one of the big excuses offered for the lack of research on the subject being difficulty in accessing archival materials from that period.

By the late 2000s, there were some cracks in the LGBT community inside Spain that resulted in a number of people leaving Orgullo permanently as it no longer served a political or social purpose for them as gay men or lesbians. The overly commercial Madrid event had lost its authenticity as a place for making political demands and building gay and lesbian identities, and had instead become about queer consumerism, where identities were obtained through buying clothing, food and drink, through listening to music, and through travel. The queer identity had become aspirational phrases, mounted on keychains and other knickknacks. The consumerism meant for some gays and lesbians, their only perceived value inside this ecosystem was as a class of consumers. These cracks would not disappear, and would re-emerge in the late 2010s and early 2020s as an LGB separatist movement, or in more simply in lesbians and homosexuals more broadly failing to politically engage in relevant issues to their communities.

The narrative around LGBT rights in Spain began to shift by the late 2000s and early 2010s in response to Partido Popular’s lack of willingness to extend certain rights to transexuals. Starting in Madrid and spreading outwards to the rest of the country, the Spanish LGBT community began putting forth a narrative that the trans community was more oppressed and discriminated against than gay men and lesbian women. This narrative was then picked up by a number of Spanish publications including El País. The existence of bisexuals begins to also pretty much disappear at this time, and intersexed individuals were not being mentioned in the context of trans community oppression.

Club Esportiu Panteres Grogues is a Catalan sports club founded in 1994 by a gay German man, initially to support gays, lesbians and bisexuals looking to play beach volleyball on the beaches of Barceloneta. In 2001, members officially organized as a non-profit sports organization to give members of the LGB community a place to play and to bring visibility to LGB sportspeople in Catalonia. In 2003, the club organized the first edition of the LGTBI+ multisport tournament Panteresports to give greater visibility to LGTBI+ sportspeople internationally. The annual September competition attracts sportspeople from all over Europe. In 2004, the club added a women’s basketball team to give women greater equality on and off the court. By 2007, the club had over 400 members and also welcomed heterosexuals as members. The club organized the 2008 edition of the EuroGames in Barcelona, with over 5,000 sportspeople coming from around 40 different countries. In 2009, the club organized the first edition of Donasport, a multisport queer women’s competition to increase visibility of women in sport. Their program has 29 sections, 19 of which are mixed and 3 which are for women, including transwomen.

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.

Homophobic abuse took place at the Centro Deportivo Municipal La Elipa, located at C. Alcalde Garrido Juaristi, 17, in August 2006. A 30-year-old gay man was kicked in the face while kissing his friend while sunbathing at the pool by a pair of Roma male youths aged 20 and 17. The youths were arrested following the incident for the attack, damaging the facilities and threatening other sunbathers. Following the attack, Pedro Zerolo, PSOE councilor from Moratalaz, said the lack of a Roma LGB organization in Madrid was sad, as it mean that Roma homosexual youths, including both gays and lesbians, had no outlet and attitudes like those of the two attackers went unchecked by others in the community. A kiss-in event was organized by COGAM at the polideportivo at the main door on 29 July 2006, with COGAM issuing a statement about the kiss-in saying it was necessary in “expressing our rejection and claiming our right to use any facility public and show our affection within it, on an equal footing with the rest of society”.

In 2006, the government of Logroño, under Articulo 37 del reglamento Orgánico de Participación Ciudadana declared GYLDA registered as a municipal public utility.

Colega Puente Genil was founded in 2006 by young men and women in the town as a place to support young gays and lesbians in rural Córdoba. It grew out of the rural activities conducted by Colega Córdoba in the capital’s providence.

Asociacion Libertad y Accion Por Los Derechos De Lesbianas – Gays – Transexuales y Bisexuales  was founded in March 2007. Its mission was to promote the rights of LGTB people in Rivas-Vaciamadrid.

The name of FELGT would change again in 2007, when they added the B for bisexuals and became FELGTB.  This was the organization’s last significant name change.

By June 2008, Atención Social a Homosexuales y Transexuales in Madrid had assisted more than 16,000 people. The service provided legal advice, along with social and psychological care to people who were rejected by family and friends or faced discrimination in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. One of the people helped in 2008 was a lesbian named Marga, who had been married for many years and had two daughters with her husband. After 21 years of marriage, she confessed to her husband over the phone that she was a homosexual. Most of the people using the center, who came from 83 different countries, though were male with only 3,620 of the 16,135 cases being females, 1865 being transwomen and 10,650 being male, with no statistics provided on how many transmen were assisted.

LGBT activists continued to have problems with how to address lesbian visibility, which had already been lacking but had decreased even more because of the AIDS crisis, and the AIDS crisis. The 2008 Festival de Cultura Gay y Lésbica de Madrid, organized by COGAM and FELGTB, included an exhibition at the Círculo de Bellas Artes. The 2008 Pride focused on lesbian visibility, which the organizers said they wanted to draw attention to, but the organizers also wanted to draw attention to HIV / AIDS. The exhibition on HIV / AIDS focused mostly on gay men. The experiences and contributions of lesbians during the worst of the 1990s was obscured.

Almansa Entiende, based in Castilla – La Mancha, was founded on 4 July 2008 as an LGBT activist organization.

The associations ¿Y a ti qué? and Girasol organized the III Jornadas de diversidad sexual ‘Activando la diversidad’ in 2008 in Ceuta. It was attended by lesbians and gays from Malaga, Seville, Cádiz and Ceuta. Among the activities was a kissing party, and a session by Consejo de la Juventud de Ceuta about discrimination through the use of language.

Bilbogay&les was established on 20 December 2007, and registered on 29 February 2008. Located on Luis Iruarrizaga Kalea, the organization raised funds for members of the gay and lesbian community with socio-economic problems that needed finacial assistances like dealing with HIV / AIDS or homeless. Funding raised by holding meetings, parties and events.

Children’s writer Olga de Dios was participating in demonstrations in support of lesbian and gay rights in Madrid in the early 2010s. Some of her activism was in lesbian feminist circles.

By the early 2010s, some lesbians in LGBT spaces and inside LGBT organizations were beginning to find themselves labelled transphobic because of their sexuality. Transwomen labeled them as too focused on the binary of sexuality, which excluded other women from their sexual orientation. Some lesbians were being urged to shed this identity as a transitory one on their way to fully understanding their own sexuality. For some lesbians, such accusations were hugely jarring as lesbians were being killed in other parts of the world and not naming themselves allowed such violence against lesbians to continue by removing valuable words to describe what was happening to same-sex attracted women.

The Asociación Colega Melilla was formally created in May 2010 as an association for the defense of equality of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transexuals. Ikram Aanan was the first secretary for the organization. They were affiliated with the national branch of Colega. They had established a Facebook presence in February 2010. They stopped all activity in 2016. In their short history, they did little lesbian specific activity.

Jornadas Estatales de Políticas Lésbicas por parte de la FELGTB took place in 2011 in Extremadura. The event was organized by Extremadura Entiende.

More than 10,000 people attended the Caravana de los Palomos Cojos in 2011 after a call was made by the television program El Intermedio. Plaza Alta in Badajoz was covered in rainbow flags for the event.

As part of the 15m movement protesting austerity in 2011, there were talks about having a trasmaricabollo assembly but it fell through. The people pushing it wanted a few days and 15m activists were unwilling to give them a few days because that was not how their assemblies worked.

AMELGA held a conference at UGR: Campus in May 2011 that focused on homosexuality in history, and homophobic bullying. It touched on the idea that lesbians faced double discrimination of being women and homosexuals. This double erasure is why there is so little data about lesbians in history.

After working for Oxfam Intermón for seven years in management roles on aid development campaigns, Irene Milleiro left that role in 2011 to join, with the Spanish company Actuable founded in 2010 by Francisco Polo having been recently been acquired by them and merged into the platform. Milleiro’s role was the Director of Campaigns in Spain. She was promoted in April 2015 to the European Director of Among the successful campaigns she was involved with were one to try to criminalize corrective rape in South Africa, amending the law to prevent tragedies like the one at the Madrid Area in 2012, increasing penalties for animal abuse in Galicia, achieving more fair textbook prices for university students, a gay couple able to enroll their daughter in school in Andalucía, and assisting gay couples in registering their children born from womb rental overseas. Overseas, her campaigns have seen lesbian torture clinics closed in Ecuador.


A third wave of lesbian HIV / AIDS interaction began in the middle of the José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero era. This wave, the shortest of the four, started around 2008 and ended around 2012. It coincided with a period where the number of AIDS deaths for women in Spain had begun to decline rapidly as a result of improved medical intervention. At the same time, there were institutional shifts both from the state and LGBT organizations that began to prioritize lesbian bisexual sexual health. This was led in part by lesbian sections of LGBT organizations.

A study was done between 2007 and 2015 in Barcelona of sexually transmitted diseases in young people between the ages of 15 and 24 to determine factors associated with HIV coinfection. The number of women participating was so small that there was no statistical point in breaking them up in different groups based on the sex of the people they had sex with as 6% were women who had sex with women and 8% were bisexual. Women who had other STIs were unlikely to also have coinfections with HIV, with only 1.6% of women with gonorrhea also having HIV and 0% of women with syphilis having HIV. The percentage of women with gonorrhea also increased at a relatively stable rate from 2007 to 2015, while the rate for men no matter who they slept with had more year-to-year variance. While men and women both had the same similar prevalence rates of syphilis from 2007 to 2013, that changed for 2014 and 2015 when women’s numbers dropped and the numbers for men who slept with women increased greatly.

The Instituto de la Mujer prepared a second edition in 2007 of their women with HIV / AIDS report. The only time lesbians were mentioned were in the name of a national organization to contact that supports women with HIV / AIDS. Bisexual women were not mentioned at all. The report said that most cases of HIV / AIDS in Spain impacted men, that heterosexual transmission accounted for 60.3% of all cases in 2006. The Instituto de la Mujer estimated that there were 120,000 to 150,000 people who had HIV / AIDS in Spain, with 20 to 25% being women. Of the women a quarter did not know how they were infected. The document then takes a heterocentric perspective to advice regarding the prevention of transmission.

After many years of being omitted from HIV/AIDS prevention literature by the Ministerio de Sanidad y Política, lesbians reappeared in 2009 with a picture of the lips of two women kissing outdoors with the phrase, “Si me besas, te transmitiré ternura”, meaning, “If you kiss me, I will convey tenderness.” The material is designed for a broader audience, and removes all idea of women and lesbian sexuality as it goes on to suggest the only sexual activity lesbians engage in is kissing on the lips in a maternal way. This was far removed from the AIDS prevention material of the 1990s created by Lesbianas Sin Dudas (LSD) that featured overt female reproductive genitalia when all the institutional materials only featured references to male genitalia and condoms.

Bolo-Bolo, based in Castilla – La Mancha, was involved in AIDS / HIV and other STI prevention in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It is unclear what materials were developed around lesbian sexual health, though their website says their educational materials were for all members of the LGBT community.

Mortality for AIDS continued to decline during the 2010s. In 2011, 197 women in Spain had died as a result of AIDS. By the end of 2019, this number had dropped to 80 women, the lowest number since 1987 when 85 women had died of AIDS, a huge spike on 1986 when 37 women had died of AIDS.

COGAM was the organization in Madrid for lesbians to seek help from if they had AIDS or HIV in the 2010s, COLEGA-Colectivo de lesbianas y gais for in Cadiz and Huelva, NOS-Asoc. Andaluza de lesbianas y gays for lesbians in Granada, ALEGA-Asoc. de Lesbianas y Gais de Cantabria for lesbians in Santander, BEN AMICS-A.Gai i Lesbianas de les Illes Balears for lesbians in Palma de Mallorca and LYGA-Lesbianas y Gais de Aragón for lesbians in Zaragoza.

COGAM was the organization in Madrid for lesbians to seek help from if they had AIDS or HIV in the 2010s. COGAM’s website in 2010 featured their lesbian section, but it made no mention of women’s sexual health. Their HIV page referenced that they held two workshops a year on sexual health for lesbians and bisexual women, and also contained a brochure about lesbian sexual health.

One of the big accomplishments of the decade was for the first time, a national health or LGBT organization specifically examined the risks of lesbians for catching AIDS or other STIs. The organization to do this was FELGTB in 2011. That year, the organization had the slogan “2011 en Positivo, + salud, + solidaridad” as part of their efforts to talk about the HIV / AIDS crisis in the LGBT community in Spain. They said one of the reasons for this was the disease primarily affected men who slept with other men, bisexual men, women transexuals and male sex workers. They also produced a report on the sexual health of lesbians, bisexual women and other women who had sex with women in order to assist LGBT organizations and activist across the country in assisting this group as there was an identified issued of inequality in care when it came to women in the LGBT community. Issues they identified among healthcare workers when dealing with women was they mistook women who had sex with women as lesbians, they assumed that lesbians and bisexual women had lower rates of STIs than heterosexual women, that sex practices between women do not constitute intercourse, an assumption that all women are automatically heterosexual which requires patients to out themselves to receive better information, and a lack of a specific profile for women who sleep with women to offer healthcare professionals to assess risks of STIs. For scientists studying women having sex with women, they frequently confuse identity with practice which means important information may be omitted, and they ignore risky sexual practices between women. For women who have sex with women, the information they receive is systematically assuming they have sex with men, assumes that even if they are lesbians they had sex with men at some point as some research indicates up to 80% of lesbians had had sex with men, and also confuse identity with practice as heterosexual identifying women who occasionally have sex with women do not find information about safe sex practices between women relevant.

Their review of existing research on lesbians found that heterosexual women and lesbians are both 10 to 20% likely to have an STI during their lifetime with Trichomonas vaginalis the most common STI reported at 6%, followed by HPV at 4.8%, Chlamydia at 4.6%, herpes at 3.3%, pelvic inflammatory disease at 2%, gonorrhea at 1.6%, syphilis at 0.3% and HIV at 0.1%. Almost all of this data was from research done in the United States. They also said that HIV / AIDS was exceedingly rare among lesbians, with no confirmed transmission cases between women having sex with women in the United States as of 2006. That was against a backdrop of US CDC data that said there were 7,381 cases of HIV among women who had sex with women, but they had other risk factors such as intravenous drug use, occasional sex with infected men or blood transfusions. Of those 7,381 cases, only 534 said they had sex exclusively with men, 486 had other risk factors for HIV while 48 did not and still contracted AIDS. While the US CDC said they had no data on transmission of cases of HIV between women, they did acknowledge that cases of transmission had been reported and the Atlanta office of the CDC published case studies about specific women who had contracted HIV after sex with other women.

Other data out of the United States shared by FELGTB said that women who had sex with women felt a lack of vulnerability to STIs and were more willing to engage in risky sexual practices than their heterosexual or bisexual counterparts. The higher the number of partners women had, the more likely women were to contract an STI. These in turn would filter down to women who only had one sexual partner. An Australian study cited by FELGTB found that 16.6% of self-identified heterosexual women had STIs, while 23.4% of self-identified lesbians had STIs and 37.9% of bisexual women had STIs. The authors attributed to the higher rates to the higher number of sexual partners had by lesbian and bisexual women, and that heterosexual women were more likely to use some form of birth control like a condom compared to lesbians.

FELGTB concluded that medical practitioners needed to be educated more on the topic, that heterocentrism and homophobia resulted in prejudice when it came to care of lesbians getting treatment for STIs, and that more specific training was needed to better identify profiles of lesbians and bisexual women likely to contract STIS. They also concluded there was a lack of political, academic and health system will to do more research specific to lesbian needs and to try to improve their specific sexual health, that there was a lack of systematic campaigns aimed at lesbians and bisexual women that left them more vulnerable. They estimated that based on global surveys, it seemed likely that between 10 and 20% of lesbians and bisexual women in Spain had an STI at some point in their life, and that for some STIs, women who have sex with women are more vulnerable than women who have sex with men. They also concluded that it is not true that women who have sex with women have a zero percent risk of contracting HIV / AIDS.

FELGTB denounced the ignorance and repression of research done into the STIs among lesbians, bisexual women and other women who have sex with women in Spain. They demanded greater media attention to this health issue for women and to not make these health issues invisible. They also requested greater involvement by universities and research training centers in studying sexual health of lesbians, bisexual women and other women who have sex with women in Spain. They asked the government to reduce the price of access to preventative materials for HIV and other STIs such as condoms, lubricants, and latex dials, and to remove the VAT from these items. They asked that the feminist movement incorporate a gender perspective in their work spaces to better include the needs of lesbians, bisexual women and other women who have sex with women in order to empower these groups to improve their sexual health. They asked that government campaigns stop using a androcentrism and cishomonormatividad perspective in trying to reach out to LGBT communities when addressing sexual health. FELGTB also said that LGBT association needed to improve their political and technical training when it came to addressing the sexual health needs of cis women, and that LGBT associations include information on female sexual health and safe sex practices.

FELGTB finished off with specific advice for lesbians, bisexual women and other women who had sex with women. That included to enjoy their sexuality, to talk freely about their sexuality, to inform themselves about real and potential risks of contracting HIV and other STIs, and to encourage them to speak up inside the LGBT and feminist movement to make sure their voices were heard on the issue of their own sexual health.

FELGTB was not alone in addressing lesbian sexual health needs in 2011. Fundación Triángulo created a guide on the sexual health for women who have sex with women in 2011. This guide was updated in 2017. It was created by Grupo de Mujeres de Fundación Triángulo who were based at branches of Fundación Triángulo in Madrid, Coslada and San Fernando de Henares. The document was the first of its kind in the Comunidad de Madrid.

A UNAIDS Under Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting Guidelines, 2011–2013 found a prevalence rate of 12.9% among women who used illicit drugs intravenously and contracting AIDS. This data is some of the only available data about HIV and AIDS among Spanish women from that period. While transgender women were mentioned in the study, mentioning that as many as 30% of transgender women in Spain may use illicit drugs intravenously, no specific mention was made regarding lesbian drug use.


Lesbian visibility or the lack of it had become an issue that Orgullo organizers in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain still had not quite figured out how to address by the late 2000s.  Lesbians were increasingly invisible, were not participating in the numbers they once were and were not using Pride as a steppingstone to become involved with LGTB or lesbian activism like they had in the past.  Lesbians, both those who identified as queer and those who were in more radical feminist circles, were growing increasingly disillusioned with the event, and were disappearing into the margins.  This was taking place even as numbers in Orgullo celebrations were swelling nationwide.

The 2004 Madrid pride march and 2006 pride march both started at Puerta del Sol and ended in Plaza de Callao. The 2007 pride march started at Puerta del Sol and ended in Plaza de España. This route was chosen because it was longer and could accommodate more participants.

Around 250,000 people participated in Orgullo 2005 Madrid that took place on 2 July 2005. It was a celebration of the legalization of same-sex marriage that had come into force only the day of the event. The route for the march went along Prado, Recoletos, Colón, Serrano y calle de Alcalá. The atmosphere was festive.

Madrid 2006 Orgullo took place on 1 July 2006. The motto for the event was “Por la diversidad: todas las familias importan”. Madrid became home to critical actions around Pride by 2006, a movement that would begin to be taken up by other cities in Spain through Bloque Alternativo. They had the motto ‘Orgullo es protesta’ and included gays, transsexuals, bisexuals and lesbians, along with LGBT collectives such as Liberacción, RQTR, la Eskalera Karakola y el Grupo de Trabajo Queer-GTQ. These radicals became stronger and as the 2010s advanced, they would begin organizing counter programming centered around anti-capitalist, anti-racist, transfeminist and anti-speciesist struggles. Their inclusion of lesbians appeared minimal and much of their struggles often focused around issues specific to transpeople. Many of the slogans explicitly mentioned transpeople.

There were more than a million participants in Madrid’s 2007 Pride celebration. That year, the city hosted Europride. The 2007 Madrid Orgullo march had the slogan of “Trans”.


Called Orgullo Gay de 2008 by the media, Pride in Madrid had a Olympic atmosphere in Plaza de Cibeles. Organizers estimated that more than a million people participated. The 2008 Madrid Orgullo festivities, organized by COGAM, had a slogan of “Por la Visibilidad Lésbica”. This was decided on by a state meeting of FELTGTB a year before. The 2007 Madrid Orgullo march had the slogan of “Trans”, and following it up with a year about lesbian visibility could be viewed as attracting lesbians and a general audience put off by the increased focus on the sometimes more controversial transgender population. For both transpeople and lesbians, the slogans representing their groups in 2007 and 2008 were ambiguous and while still being political. The nature of the event was at times muddled, because organizers would use the term manifestación to describe it when talking about the vindication of rights and the creation of political awareness around those rights. At the same time, when dealing with participants and other stakeholders, they would describe it as desfile, meaning parade, or cabalgata, meaning trip. The extent to which there was overt political activity was with a reading of a manifesto at the end of the march. All other political actions involved with Orgullo involved belonging to a group marching who had a slogan, or were a politically affiliated group, or were a group carrying their own political slogans. The playful nature, commercialization of the event and welcoming of many people across the political spectrum had largely removed the political nature of the march itself. An example of muddled medssaging involved the organizers also wanting to draw attention to lesbian visibility, but the organizers also wanted to draw attention to HIV / AIDS. The exhibition at the Círculo de Bellas Artes on HIV / AIDS focused almost exclusively on gay men on a year when the motto was “Por la Visibilidad Lésbica”.  Most of the other major programming around Orgullo organized by FELGTB had similar issues.

One exception to that was a march for lesbian visibility, organized by CRECUL, from Puerta del Sol de Madrid to Calle Preciados, though only about 50 people participated. The  would be repeated the following year with the same intention of increasing lesbian visibility. Despite the very low attendance, these marches were successful in terms of gaining media attention to issues that mattered to lesbians.

Despite the 2008 march being about lesbian visibility, there did not appear to be any dedicated effort by COGAM and FELTGB to try to increase lesbian participation in the event. The float section of the parade, the part that often has the greatest value for both spectators and participations, was heavily dominated by men. Members of COGAM wore shirts with the slogan, “Yo también soy lesbiana”. They did not wear them in the same color, but in all the colors of the rainbow in order to give people a visual reminder that lesbians were part of the broader LGBT community and to present a unified face for the movement.

Barcelona had a similarly themed flag in line with the agreed upon FELTGB slogan. Unlike Madrid where lesbian symbols could not co-exist with generic LGBT ones, the 2008 pride parade there had pink flags and pink triangles alongside the rainbow flags.

The 2008 Barcelona pride festivities had a slogan of “Por la Visibilidad Lésbica”. This was decided on by a state meeting of FELTGTB a year before for all organization sanctioned marches in the coyntry. The 2007 Barcelona pride march had the slogan of “Trans”. In Madrid’s 2008 march, march organizers wore shirts saying, “Yo también soy lesbiana”. They did not wear them in the same color, but in all the colors of the rainbow in order to give people a visual reminder that lesbians were part of the broader LGBT community and to prevent a unified face for the movement. Barcelona had a similarly themed flag in line with the agreed upon FELTGB slogan. Unlike Madrid where lesbian symbols could not co-exist with generic LGBT ones, the 2008 Barcelona pride parade there had pink flags and pink triangles alongside the rainbow flags.

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 2008 Orgullo march in Gijón had a theme of lesbian visibility. Posters for the event were designed by Nerea Sánchez, Susi and José Mañas and chosen as part of a contest by XEGA. XEGA chose lesbian visibility because they believed that lesbians were often the most invisible group at Pride, and they wanted to make LGBT women, their relationships and their sexual orientation visible.

Despite FELGTB’s national guidance on the motto for the year, not all cities followed suit as some had their own agendas. The theme of Orgullo in June 2008 in the Basque country in marches in Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Pamplona was “Lesbians, Gays and Transexuals are not for sale!” A Coruña’s 2008 Orgullo event was highly critical of the homophobic attitudes of the Catholic Church and the Church’s official institutional position within Spain.

Depictions of Madrid 2009 Orgullo festivities in the media continued recent patterns; it featured lots of pictures of scantily dressed gay men, who were often the major visual focus of media representations of the event. When women were featured in the same way, it was often on floats that appeared to be moving discotecas and they appeared alongside other scantily dressed men. Media discussion around Orgullo also rarely addressed specific lesbian concerns, or even referenced lesbians as an independent group. That year, there were 31 floats. The motto for Pride was “Escuela sin armarios”, with the goal of normalizing homosexuality in schools. The route went from Calle de Alcalá to Gran Vía.

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,, la Federación Estatal de Lesbianas Gays, Bisexuales y Transexuales y Fundación Triángulo.

El Foro por la Diversidad Afectivo Sexual de Extremadura celebrated Orgullo 2009 Cáceres. For the first time, the rainbow flag flew from the Ayuntamiento de Cáceres on 27 June 2009. Councilor for Social Affairs Marcelina Elviro attended as a representative of the mayor. David Holguín was there as a representative of El Foro por la Diversidad Afectivo Sexual de Extremadura . ALEAS IU Extremadura, De Par en Par Joven, El Arrabal Oriental, Extremadura Entiende, Fundación Triángulo Extremadura, Grupo LGBT PSOE Extremadura, Osos contra el Sida and T-Entiendo all participated in the city’s Orgullo celebration.

Around 2010, the Ayuntamiento de Madrid and local organizers began a dispute over the route for the pride march as a result of neighborhood complaints. Some neighbors did not like the week of loud partying, and litter strewn streets that had accompanied the 2009 edition. Images of Orgullo in the media by this point were fixated on gay men dressed in sexual costumes and partying, with no political element involved in the march. Lesbians were absent from the reporting.

GYLDA organized Orgullo 2010 in Logroño. A ceremony was held at Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where a delegation from GYLDA met with the local government and mother municipal groups. The official press release around the event was very generic and only mentioned a need to combat generic discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Madrid 2011 Orgullo took place on 2 July 2011. Some lesbians participated in the march, including some under the banner “Salud e igualdad por derecho”. Some of the media photos of lesbians from Orgullo that year featured women wearing shirts that said, “Kiss me! I’m Swedish!” The route was from Puerta de Alcalá to Plaza de España.

Arndeo, La Rioja did not have any sort of Orgullo celebrations in 2011. It would not have been possible as local homosexuals still feared homophobic aggression in the town against both men and women. Instead, the few mostly gay men went to Madrid to celebrate Pride.

[1] English: Law 1/2004 on comprehensive protection measures against gender violence.

[2] English: Law 39/2006 on the promotion of personal autonomy and care for people in situations of dependency

[3] Spanish: 1. Coito anal. 2. Homosexualidad masculina. Homosexual. Se aplica a personas que satisfacen su sensualidad sexual con las de su mismo sexo […].

[4] Spanish: “No hay ninguna razón ni nadie entiende por qué España tiene que ponerse a la cabeza en estas cosas.”

[5] Spanish: “un rasgo de las sociedades democráticas y racionalmente ordenadas es procurar a las minorías los mismos derechos, con igual grado de protección legal y de amparo institucional de que gozan las mayorías.”

[6] Spanish in feminist circles: vientres de alquiler.
Spanish in other contexts: gestación subrogada.
English: Surrogacy.

[7] Spanish: las uniones no matrimoniales de convivencia estable entre parejas, con independencia de su orientación sexual.

[8] Spanish: género no-binario.

[9] Translation for genderqueer are either genderqueer, which does not appear to be used in Castillian Spanish, or género no-binario which is the same as non-binary.

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