Cortes draws its name from the fact that the Cortes, the building housing the Congreso de Diputados, is found in the district. Cortes includes most of the historical Barrio de Las Letras.  The area earned that name after becoming a place where most of the literary giants of the Spanish golden age lived.  The district is also sometimes called Huertas, because of the “huertas del prado” that were found there in the seventeenth century.


Santa María Magdalena de la Penitencia was a correctional monastery located at Plaza de Celenque and Calle de Tetuán, 12. It opened in 1587 and was run by Franciscan nuns. Women were only allowed to leave if they married. In 1693, they were ordered to move to a new location at Calle Hortaleza, 88. In 1692, the rules of the facility were change to say that, “under no circumstances are they to permit to women to sleep together … and that any infraction would be seriously punished”. The rules also said that any woman found guilty of the “sin of illicit behavior or any scandalous act, or any special friendship between residents that would also cause scandal for the house … [such as] talking at night, together in one of their cells, or sleeping together” could be sentences to prison. The building, despite being burned down in 1936, continued to function as a convent until 1974. The building currently is maintained by Sindicato Unión General de Trabajadores.

Congreso de los Diputados, located at Carrera de S. Jerónimo, s/n, is the lower house of the  Cortes Generales, Spain’s legislative branch.  They are located in the Palacio de las Cortes.  The congressional body was founded in 1834 by Estatuto Real issued by Reina María Cristina that established a bicameral setup for the Cortes.  The name was approved in the 1837 Constitution.  Configuration for and predominance of the body was modified several times with the Constitutions of 1846, 1856, 1869 and 1876.  During the Franco period, the body disappeared and was replaced by a pseudo-parliament that occupied the same building.  The body returned in 1977 during the Democratic transition.  Construction started inbuilding the Congreso de Diputados occupies in 1843 and was completed in 1850.  It is a neoclassical design. It was here that Clara Campoamor and Victoria Kent had their famous debate on women’s suffrage. It is also where an attempted coup d’état took place in 1981.

On 13 April 1931, the Penal Code of 1928, with its problematic 601, 613 and 616 articles, was done away with as the Second Republic formally came into being, reintroducing the Penal Code of 1870 as the new law of the land. 1932 saw the introduction of a new penal code in Spain. This one made no mention of sodomy or homosexuality as an aggravating offense, except in the case of men serving in the army. The changes were largely a result of reforms pushed through by Congreso de Diputados Radical Socialist Party member Victoria Kent and PSOE member Luis Jiménez de Asúa.  The Ley de Vagos y Maleantes formally removed homosexuality as a crime from the books in 1933, except among members of the military. Beggars, ruffians, pimps and prostitutes were still considered criminals. The law was passed 4 August 1933, being approved unanimously in the PSOE and Communist dominated Congreso de Diputados.

Victoria Kent was one of the first of three women in the Congreso de Diputados. Ángeles Álvarez Álvarez became the first woman to publicly serve in the Congreso de Diputados as a lesbian in 2011.

CRECUL drafted a proposed law on legal equality of de facto couples regardless of their sexual orientation and the right to joint adoption by homosexual couples and sent it to the Congreso de Diputados in 1996.  They were later called to appear by the before congress regarding their proposed law.  The proposed law would then be dealt with for a number of legislative sessions before finally a version passed in 2005. The Consejo de las Mujeres del Municipio de Madrid held a press conference and demonstration on 28 Madrid 2020 in front of the Congreso de Diputados after they delivered their draft of the proposed legislation on the Law of Equality of Diverse Families. This was the second major step in their renewed campaign that started a month earlier. Among those leading the group is CRECUL president Elena de León Criado. On 31 October 2021, CRECUL and Partido Feminista representatives met with Sonia Guerra and Laura Berja, deputies in the Grupo Parlamentario Socialista and with representatives of the Comisión de Igualdad, and Comisión de Derechos Sociales y Políticas Integrales de la Discapacidad to discuss the Equality of Diverse Families.

Teatro de la Comedia, located at Calle de Príncipe, 14, had a live production of Tiro la Molina’s work El vergonzoso en palacio in 2020. It was put on by Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico. The work focused on female sexual typology, with one of the three main female protagonists in the comedy being a latent lesbian and was written in the early 17th century.

Teatro Español, located at Calle del Príncipe, 25, had a live production of Tiro la Molina’s work El vergonzoso en palacio in 1894. The work focused on female sexual typology, with one of the three main female protagonists in the comedy being a latent lesbian and was written in the early 17th century. Victorina Durán met with other lesbians there during the 1920s in a salon in the building, one of the most frequent places where she would hold tertulias. Margarita Xirgu performed in the 1922 production of La niña by Gómez Arias de Calderón de la Barca held at the theater. Right-wing supporters attended the 29 December1934 Madrid premiere of Lorca’s play Yerma at the theater in which Xirgu starred. Sitting in the upper gallery, they repeatedly interrupted the show to accuse her of being a lesbian and queer.

Teatro María Guerrero, located at Calle de Tamayo y Baus, 4, is a theater in the city. Lola Rodríguez Aragón organized the first official opera season at the theater in late 1945 after success in opera in Lisbon in May of that year. The theater had a live production of Tiro la Molina’s work El vergonzoso en palacio in 1948. The work focused on female sexual typology, with one of the three main female protagonists in the comedy being a latent lesbian and was written in the early 17th century. When Margarita Xirgu returned to Spain in 1914, she settled in Madrid with her first performances at the theater in Santiago Rusiñol’s play El patio azul, and then followed it up with another role in another performance at the theater.

Museo de Arte Moderno, originally located at Paseo de Recoletos, 20, was created in 1894 and opened on 1 August 1898. Among the artists whose work was exhibited was that of Marisa Roesset Velasco. The museum was closed on 5 February 1971, with its works being distributed to Museo del Prado and Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo (MEAC), the predecessor to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

Teatro Real de Madrid is one of the most important theaters in Madrid. The family of Victorina Durán Cebrian was heavily involved in the performing arts and had connections to the theater. When she was young, Durán would watch her mother dance at the theater. Teatro Real hosted a production of the opera Ainadamar in July 2012. It was a production 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 and Granada. The actress was Garcia’s muse. It was also home to the Conservatorio Superior de Música y Declamación, from 1852 to 1932, the period when Victorina Durán Cebrian attended. The theater is located at Plaza de Isabel II, and opened in 1850. In addition to seeing performances at the theater, guided tours are also offered.

The original offices of El Heraldo de Madrid were located at calle del Marqués de Cubas, 9. It was in these offices that no longer at there that Carmen de Burgos worked as a journalist in the 1910s.

Café Molinero, located at Calle Gran Vía, 1, in the Edificio Grassy, opened in 1917. It originally included a restaurant, Sicilia-Molinero, and a tearoom, with the cafe opening shortly after. In its time, it was one of the most elegant places in Madrid. The cafe finally closed its doors in the 1990s and was replaced with a restaurant with erotic shows. During the 1920s, the café was one of the most frequent meeting places for Victorina Durán and the Círculo Sáfico de Madrid.

Calle de Ventura de la Vega, 1, on the corner with carrera de San Jerónimo is where Victorina Durán had a spacious attic with a large skylight and north face windows. It had views of some of Madrid’s important landmarks. The attic was a place where held social gatherings with friends and fellow artists in the 1920s. In Elena Fortún’s Oculto sendero, the apartment is recast as belonging to Lolín. In her work El pensionado de Santa Casilda, the attic is recast as being on Gran Vía.

Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, located at Calle de Alcalá, 13, also called the Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. It was created by Royal Decree on 12 April 1752. Victorina Durán Cebrian, Rosa Chachel, Marisa Roësset Velasco and Matilde Calvo Rodero all studied there during the late 1910s and early 1920s. Lucía Sánchez Saornil also enrolled at the school, studying painting in the late 1910s. In addition to being a school, it also has a museum attached to it that is open to the public.

The building at Calle de las Huertas, 41 is where Elena Fortún lived as a child, starting at the age of 4 when her father became the administrator in charge of the building. There is a plaque on the building to honor her.

Teatro de La Zarzuela, located at Calle de Jovellanos, 4, opened on 10 October 1856 as a specific space for the performance of zarzuelas. It closed in 1909 because of fire, underwent reconstruction and opened again in 1914. In the fall of 1958, Lola Rodríguez Aragón began two seasons in charge of the theater company, the first woman to run the theater. Despite initial financial losses, she had a hugely successful run as its leader. She would also organize an opera festival at the theater in 1964.

Ministerio de Sanidad, located at Paseo del Prado, 18, is the national department responsible for executing government health policy and managing healthcare under the powers of the  General State Administration.  The ministry was created by royal decree on 9 November 1832 with the creation of the Ministry of Development, which oversaw health.  The health department was created by a second royal decree inside that department on 10 March 1847.  Since that time, the Ministry of Development has become the Ministerio del Interior.  The building the ministry is in was constructed in front of the Museo del Prado in 1949, with work finishing in 1955.  Franco formally inaugurated the building for various ministries on 27 October 1955. On 1 December 1993, Lesbianas Sin Duda held a protest outside the Ministerio de Sanidad to protest their policies related to HIV and AIDS. The group was one of the only ones in Spain to trying to actively draw attention to women and lesbians, and their needs as it related HIV and AIDS, both in treatment and in terms of health-related policies. Fefa Vila was a member of LSD involved in these efforts.  On International Day of the Fight against AIDS that took place on 1 December 1996, Lesbianas Sin Duda protested on the street in front of the Ministerio de Sanidad again, demanding intervention to combat the AIDS epidemic taking place in the country. On 28 May 2013, CRECUL and other feminist organizations took part in a protest in front of the ministry to commemorate International Day of Women’s Health. For lesbian feminists present among the hundreds of protests, the main issues were lack of access to assisted reproduction techniques for lesbians and single women. They lamented that Partido Popular forced women who did not want to become mothers to carry a fetus to term while preventing women who wanted to become mothers from becoming mothers.

Círculo de Bellas Artes, located at Calle de Alcalá, 42, is a private, non-profit multidisciplinary cultural entity founded in 1880. Originally loclated at Calle del Barquillo, 5, they moved to their current Antonio Palacios designed location in 1926. 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.

Ministerio de Derechos Sociales y Agenda 2030, located at Paseo del Prado, 18, is a department responsible for proposing and implementing policy related to social rights, social welfare, family, protection of minors, social cohesion, and the care people with disabilities, youth, those who are dependent and animals. The ministry was founded on 13 January 2020, preceded by Ministerio Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social and an office inside the Presidencia del Gobierno.  In February 2021, the Comité reivindicativo y Cultural de Lesbianas (CRECUL), Partido Feminista, Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres de la Comunidad de Madrid, Coordinadora de Organizaciones de Mujeres para la Participación and the Igualdad y la Asociación de Mujeres Feministas Marcela Lagarde submitted a draft of the Family Diversity Law to the ministry.  The proposed law sought greater recognition for different types of families, assisted reproduction in public health, and the ability for unmarried female couples to adopt children together.


Socialist government of Felipe González (1982 – 1996)

            A number of activities were organized by CFLM around Pride in 1984, including an international round table about feminism and lesbianism on 19 June at the Salon de Actos of the Ministerio de Sanidad at Paseo del Prado, 18 y 20.  Participants included American Kate Millet, Greek Tasia Jatzi and CFLM member Montserrat Olivan.[1]

            Pride in the late 1980s and early 1990s period was not without potential safety concerns. Marches in Centro in rarely saw traffic cut off for whole streets like Calle de Alcalá.  Sometimes, the local government just cut off the bus lane for use by marchers and the buses overtook protesters. After these marches, some people opted to go to Parque Retiro instead of Chueca to relax.[2]

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

            The 2005 Pride march was a celebration of the legalization of same-sex marriage and a demand for the rights of transsexuals. The march with between 97,000 and 250,000 participating in it started Plaza de la Lealtad and ended at Plaza de Colón, going along Paseo del Prado, Recoletos, Serrano and Calle de Alcalá. The atmosphere was festive.

            La VIH en rose. Vivir con VIH was an exhibit that took place as part of El Festival Visible, the fourth edition of the Festival Internacional de Cultura de COGAM.  It looked at the impact of HIV in Chueca and other barrios in Madrid.  It took place in Círculo de Bellas Artes. Sala de exposiciones 6ª planta from 25 June to 19 July.  Artists featured included Abajo  Izquierdo,   Arturo   Bibang,   Dani   Duart,   Rinaldo   Hopf, Guillermo Martínez, Alex Mene, Esperanza Moreno, Ángel Pantoja, César Rojas, Silvia & Neus y David Trullo.  It did not appear to reference lesbians.

            LesMadrid 2009 took place in in collaboration with MUESTRA-T. The Social Pride Project took place, on display at Círculo de Bellas Artes.  Artistic coordination was done by Veronica del Hoyo Colino.  A party was held at Circulo de Bellas Artes with djs Moni-k and DJ Lara.

            Orgullo Ciudadano hosted an event during Madrid Pride, taking on 3 July 2009 at the Congreso de Diputados as part of Año de la Diversidad Afectivo-sexual en la Educación; the group saw it as education as important to their goals of an inclusive society.

            Orgullo Indignado’s “Revolución serás transfeminista” action in 2011 took place at Feria de Productos LGTB which took place at Círculo de Bellas Artes.

            CCOO organized Jornada por la diversidad on 28 June 2011 at the offices of CCOO de Madrid, located at Calle de Lope de Vega, 38.  The event was formally titled I Jornada por la diversidad bajo el epígrafe: LGTB: Necesidades y respuestas sociosanitarias. The workshop focused on LGTB health care with a primary focused on HIV prevention.  CCOO also marched during the 2 July Pride parade.

Conservative government of Mariano Rajoy (2011 – 2018)

            An act took place as part of Pride 2012 in the Ernest Lluch Room of the Congreso de Diputados to celebrate seven years of same-sex marriage being legal. The event was organized by FELGTB, with Partido Popular representatives opting not to participate as they still had an appeal on the issue before the constitutional court.

            The 2013 Pride route started at Paseo de la Infanta Isabel in front of the Atocha trainstation, continued along Paseo del Prado towards Plaza de Neptuno and Plaza de Cibeles before ending up at Plaza de la Independencia and Puerta de Alcalá. 

            Critical Pride took place again in 2014, with around five hundred marchers. Their march started in Plaza Antón Martín and ended at Plaza de Alonso Martínez, where a manifesto was read. The march traversed Calle Atocha, Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, Calle Carretas, Puerta del Sol, Calle Montera, Calle Fuencarral, Calle Infantas, Calle San Bartolomé, Calle Augusto Figueroa, Plaza Chueca, Calle Gravina and Calle Hortaleza. Batukada Entiende were one of the conveners. [3]

Socialist government of Pedro Sánchez (2018 – 2023)

            The Pride march for 2022 took place on 7 July and followed a route that started from Glorieta de Carlos V, went down Paseo del Prado, past Fuente de Neptuno[4], down Paseo de Recoletos and ended at Plaza de Colón. There were five hundred police assigned to monitor the march and 180 members of Samur to support any health issues that occurred. An estimated two million participated in the march and related events, along with more than fifty floats.             The floats for Pride 2022 left from Plaza de Carlos V at 20:30. There were thirty-nine in total listed on the official march order but news reports saying there were fifty-two. They were organized into four groups.  The third group had LGTB themed businesses and events. The fourth group was for businesses and international corporations, and included Idealista and Museo Thyssen, both of which are located in the barrio,

[1] (CFLM, 1984)

[2] (García Dauder, 2019)

[3] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017)

[4] The Neptune Fountain is a neoclassical fountain located in the middle of the roundabout of Plaza Canovas del Castillo.


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