Culture,  Preparing

The Acceptance of Homosexuality in Spain

Dear Josh,

I don’t know if you know this, but I grew up with a gay uncle, allowing me to live a childhood where I didn’t question the ‘normalcy’ of homosexuality—for me it was completely ordinary for my uncle to have a male partner. However, a time did come when I realized that not everyone saw this the same way as I did and I didn’t always know how to react. You will probably remember that in high school I would remind people that “gay is not a synonym for stupid” and I even wrote a paper or two on the rights of same-sex couples for English class. Therefore, when I moved to Spain, I was pleasantly surprised to learn how progressive the whole country seems to be in regards to this topic and, even though it is not a perfect situation, I do believe we can learn from them.


Homosexual couple holding hands. Photo source Stanley Dai on StockSnapA little bit of history

Spain, in 2005 and behind the Netherlands and Belgium, was the third country in the world to pass a law accepting same-sex marriage. However, the movement didn’t start there. Homosexual couples faced a fair amount of oppression under Francisco Franco’s heavily religious dictatorship and when his regime finished we can see how support for gay rights began to grow (for example, the films created by Pedro Almodóvar during la Movida Madrileña). And, today, Spain is considered to be one of the most gay-friendly countries to live in.


I don’t want you to think that there is complete acceptance

Of course there are things in Spanish society that are still separated by the sex of a person (a silly example that is very pertinent in my life is the way girls who play soccer are looked upon). In addition, we can definitely see how the Catholic church has expressed its concern in regards to the steps taken in Spain towards same-sex marriages as they are afraid that it will “diminish the power of marriage.” However, in terms of same-sex relations, there seems to be a deeper understanding and acceptance than I have personally seen in other places.

Note: If you want to get into the political side of the question, the PSOE (the equivalent of—although not necessarily similar to—the democratic party in the U.S.) party generally supports same-sex marriages where as the PP (the Spanish version of the republican party) does not.


There is a genuine acknowledgement of homosexual relationships

Aside from the fact that Spain was one of the first countries to pass a law accepting same-sex marriages, they also have taken steps towards allowing adoptions and parental rights of both partners. Since around 2006 they have started to take legal steps towards removing discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation as they do not feel that it impacts a couple’s ability to start a family. In addition, in a 2013 study done to analyze the general perception of homosexuality, in Spain 88% of people polled said that society should accept it (compared to 60% in the States).

Female couple. Photo source BhaktiCreative on PixabayThis makes a huge difference towards the legal status of homosexual couples as it helps continue the support of same-sex rights even when political power changes hands—as we can see when the government leader changed in the elections of 2011. Therefore, we can understand that, at least legally speaking, Spain is taking steps towards making their country more inclusive in regards to same-sex relationships and rights. In this case, we can also see how the power of popular opinion can impact the results of more controversial questions.


And they seem to truly be proud of their acceptance

I have spoken with both young and old alike, of all genders and sexual orientation, and they all seem to be genuinely proud of their country’s initiative when it comes to gay rights. Coming from a relatively conservative town in the Midwest, this surprised me at first, but now I come to value that the majority of people here feel that all people are people and should have the ability to celebrate their love and have families with the people they chose.

Let us know if you have any more questions or comments about this subject down below!



P.S. Now that you know this about the Spanish culture, would you like to learn some LGBT-friendly Spanish vocab to sound like a native? If so, check out this list from Lingopie of twenty terms you should know.

One Comment

  • Chuck ("Charlie") Hill

    You said above that the “power of popular opinion” can affect political results, which is very true, in fact when dealing with issues such as gay marriage, it is critical. As a practical matter you cannot legislate acceptance of gays anymore than you can legislate the love of one person for another. Laws may force people to pretend to support something when they do not support it in reality. But under those circumstances those being forced will do everything they can to resist and subvert the law every chance they get or can create. However when acceptance is due to the free will of the people themselves rather than masquerading compliance to a law, the converse becomes true. That is, it becomes be quite difficult to force the people to accept an anti- gay agenda or gay intolerance regardless of what laws, regulations, rules and such government puts in place. Unfortunately in America too many people rely on changing “laws” rather than changing attitudes. Attitudes are inherently far mor difficult to change than “laws”. But it CAN be done, and much has already been done in this area. Education of the non-accepting with facts, compassion and patience is the way to changing attitudes.

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