Lesbians have long been involved with Spanish protests, marches and celebrations that took place on March 8’s International Women’s Labor Day. At the same time, the date has also been important for other women and LGTB rights issues in Spain. The following is a list detailing lesbian involvement in those events, and announcements that took place on that date that impacted lesbians. It isn’t intended to be comprehensive as I haven’t researched the subject thoroughly. It is intended to be a starting point to understand that lesbians have been part of the fight for women’s rights, which includes lesbian rights because lesbians are women, that have taken place on the day.
On 8 March 1910, Alfonso XIII authorized some of the most important legislation for women in the history of Spain when he issued a Royal Order that allowed women access to higher education.
Fernanda Monasterio Cobelo was a psychologist and teacher. To celebrate the United Nations International Year of Women in 1975, she collaborated in the production the magazine El Urogallo.
Lesbians participated in the 8 March International Women’s Labor Day events in the 1980s. They do so though without any visible, independent identity. The public had no awareness that lesbians were participating or aiding the feminist cause. Lesbian participation in these events just furthered their invisibility in society because they did not make themselves visible and didn’t assert their identity as lesbians first and feminists second. Lesbians participated in the 8 March in support of women’s rights in 1981 in Barcelona.
Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas de Euskadi was founded in 1985. It brought together lesbians from Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Navarra. They would organize a number of events around 8 March International Women’s Labor Day and Orgullo.
CLFE published a document called “Ligar es un milagro” for 8 March 1986 International Women’s Labor Day protests. It attempted to dismantle the lesbophobic messages being published by the Catholic Church at the time. At the 8 March demonstration that year, members of CFLE dressed as nuns to further their criticism of the Church.
As part of 1991 International Women’s Labor Day activities, Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas de Bizkaia did a campaign called “Desde nuestra acera”. They held a debate about topics including de facto couples, labor discrimination, refugee status, in education homophobia no, lesbian visibility, pensions, adoption, inheritance and marriage.
Yolanda Martínez, Nerea Calonge and Idoia Bilbao produced “Encarceladas. Pasión entre rejas” in 1992 in honor of International Women’s Day of Labor on 8 March. The play was based on an original script written by the three women and had a lesbian story line with a happy ending. The play, done in the almodóvar style, was one of the first to be staged at Bilbao’s Bilborock, then known as Iglesia de la Merced, with admission costing 500 pesetas. Financing for the play came from Asamblea de Mujeres de Bizkaia after a lot of internal debate, with some members of the Asamblea ultimately joining the cast. Later that year, Yolanda Martínez was the master of ceremonies at the I Convención Internacional por las libertades, sobre todo la sexual, held at Plaza Santiago in Bilbao and organized by Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas de Bizkaia and EHGAM as part of Orgullo activities.
Colectivo de Lesbianas Feministas de Bizkaia’s 2004 International Women’s Labor Day poster said, “He podido amar a otra mujer. Neska maitea halnuenez”.
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.
On 8 March 2008 in honor of International Women’s Day of Labor, Mari Trini was given the “Fight for Equality” award by the Autonomous Community of Murcia. The ceremony marked her last public appearance. Trini had lung cancer and was living on the outskirts of Murcia, preparing a farewell concert when she died at Hospital Universitario Morales Meseguer on 6 April 2009.
Diversitat’s Grupo Les in 2014 focused on equality between gays and lesbians, so that both their realities were manifested inside LGTB spaces. They were also focused on the exclusion of lesbian and single women from public health offerings for assisted reproduction techniques. The group participated in the 8 March International Women’s Day events in Calencia.
Plaça de la Universitat hosted Barcelona’s 2015 International Women’s Labor Day march. Among the groups participating was LesBiCat. Their focus in participating was to draw attention to the October 2014 law by Parliament of Catalonia againt LGBT-phobia. The law had not yet come into force, and they felt that failure to bring it into force immediately put their lives at risk.
Ayuntamiento de Móstoles announced on 8 March 2016 that they would create an office to assist victims of lesbian, gay, transsexual and bisexual phobia. The decision to do so was a result of an alarming increase in the number of attacks on members of the LGBT community in 2014 and 2015. They were one of the first towns to launch such an office. They also announced that they would join the Observatorio Madrileño contra la Homofobia, Transfobia y Bifobia, the first townhall in the region to become a member.
Fundación Triángulo organized a conference in 2017 to coincide with International Women’s Labor Day in Badajoz titled “Las mujeres y la igualdad LGTBI” that ran from 8 to 11 March. It was held on the campus of the Universidad de Extremadura in the building of the Facultad de Educación. Among the attendees were Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela deputy Tamara Adrián and Peruvian activisist and Articulación de Lesbianas Feministas member Marivel Saldaña. The conference had no lesbian specific discussion. Lesbians were always included alongside transsexuals and bisexual women.
WADO joined the 8 March 2017 International Women’s Labor Day protests in Guadalajara, and the Jornada held in the weekend before the event. It took place at the Palacio del Infantado from 3 to 5 March 2017, and WADA presented one of the panels, “Indentidad de género y orientación sexual”. Of the seven activities taking place in the jornada, it was the only one to reference women’s sexuality.
Les Galicia met in front of the Obelisco in La Coruña before going on to go together as a group to participate in the #8M International Women’s Day of Labor protest events in 2019.
As part of the 8 March 2019 International Women’s Day Protests in Madrid, a group of lesbians protested outside “Madrid de los fachas”, Vox’s headquarters. They stuck heart shaped LGBTI flag stickers on nearby Vox posters, and engaged in chanting in support of women’s rights and against homophobia. During their protest, Hazte Oír’s bus showed up with its giant sign condemning feminazis. The lesbians blocked the bus from passing down the street and chanted in protest of the message. Lesbians also made a symbolic visit to the offices of Partido Popular, chanting outside of it, España mañana será lesbiana” while waving rainbow flags and women’s power flags.
As part of the 2019 International Women’s Labor Day events, El calor del Té in Cáceres hosted ‘Conversatorio Feminista’ on 1 March 2019. The event was organized by Red Feminista de Extremadura, Extremadura Entiende and Chrysallis, with Carmen Ibarlucea and Sisi Cáceres Rojo among the speakers.
The global pandemic hit in early 2020, shutting down Spain with the country going into hard lockdown shortly after 8 March and the International Day of Women’s Labor events, along with the Vox party conference. It created a political mess and a health crisis.
While reproductive assistance was finally given to lesbian and bisexual women in Melilla in 2020, the number of techniques was limited. Increasing the number of methods available to women in public health in Melilla was part of the demands by women on the 8 March International Women’s Day march.
At 8 March 2020 protests in Barcelona and Madrid, feminists were verbally and physically abused by proponents of self-ID.
Feminists in Madrid marched in protest of sexual exploitation, surrogacy and the proposed Trans Law on 23 October 2021. Their route started at Plaza de Neptuno and ended at Puerta del Sol. Several thousand women participated in one of the largest marches by women since the start of the pandemic, after the previous 8 de Marzo International Women’s Labor Day marches had been denied permits by the government. One of the groups of women actively participating in the march were lesbians, who claimed that the gender self-identification components of the Trans Law were homophobic and lesbophobic. Many lesbians in Spain have been accused of being TERFs for excluding male bodied individuals from their dating pool. Some of this was reflected in signs, both by lesbians and other women in in attendance, including signs that said, “Terf es el nuevo feminazi” and “Ser lesbiana no es transfobia”.
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