Although a culturally-Catholic country (of mostly non-practicing Catholics), Spain legalized both same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in 2005 and has been recognized for providing one of the highest degrees of liberty in the world to its LGBTQ+ citizens. Spain is home to powerful LGBTQ+ associations and lobbies, and is ranked as one of the most queer-friendly countries in the world. Students should be aware, however, that the political far right party, VOX, has a blatantly homoantagonistic, anti-Trans platform that seeks to rescind the human rights gained by queer collectives over the last 20 years. Hate crimes and microaggressions against queer people occur in Madrid and in Spain, and have at times impacted our students negatively. At the same time, some LGBTQ+ students have reported that they feel safer and more accepted here than in their hometowns.
LGBTQ+ people are highly visible and vocal in Spain, and it’s common to see a queer couple walking down the street holding hands, kissing or otherwise displaying public affection. Yet, given the lack of political correctness in Spain, it is not uncommon to hear the Spanish word for “fag” (maricón) used freely when talking about or to queer people, or in other contexts, and Spaniards may become startled if you tell them that you find it offensive. Even Spanish LGBTQ+ people may not understand American sensitivity to the use of this pejorative word. The lack of awareness around discriminatory speech may cause suffering to queer students and their allies.
While Trans people in Spain are increasing in visibility, and a pro-Trans movement is gathering momentum and winning legal battles, Trans people continue to face discrimination at the legal and social level in Spain, even within queer communities, “traditional” feminist collectives, and various political forums. In spite of ongoing vigorous attempts by Trans collectives to change the process for changing names and gender assignments, it remains highly bureaucratic and discriminatory. There is still a long way to go to achieve broad Trans rights in Spain.
During Orientation we offer a lecture that includes analysis and information about resources for all queer people with an inclusive focus on Trans identity and justice in Spain. Our courses on Identities and Black Lives Matter in Spain, along with our Laboratorio de Pedagogías Antirracistas Interseccionales (LPAI) examine and visibilize the intersections of race and diverse sexual dissidence in Spain.
- Orientation lecture on LGBTQ+ Experiences in Spain This presentation is framed within the program’s abiding mission of educating about justice, intercultural intelligence and mindfulness practices.
- IFG Our Intercultural Focus Groups are critical support spaces where students may discuss their identity-based experiences, joys and challenges.
- Queer & Questioning Affinity Group. This student led queer affinity group is intended to be a space of support where Queer & Questioning Students can discuss questions, concerns, and personal experiences throughout their semester here in Madrid. Q&Q is a space of joy and connection!
- Arcópoli. LGBTQIA+ university association
- Batucada que entiende. Percussion school for women
- COGAM (Colectivo LGTB+ de Madrid). Weekly activities where newcomers are welcome
- Creando Huellas – free legal, psychological and social assistance specialized in discrimination based in Madrid [as long as you have a NIE or student visa].
- FELGTB’s Línea Arcoíris – Support and guidance to LGTBQ+ youth
- GMadrid Sports. Sports club for LGBTQIA+ people
- ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- LGTBailamos – Bachata, salsa and kizomba dancing without gender roles!
- La Mala Mujer. Space for queer women & trans people. Male allies welcome!
- Go Abroad LGBTQIA+ Travel Guide (downloadable pdf)
- Olympe Abogados – legal assistance specialized in discrimination (sexual orientation, race, gender, etc.)
- UAM Entiende. The LGBTQIA+ association at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
- US Embassy Resources for LGBTQIA Travelers. Traveler information for LGBTQIA people
We would love your feedback if you have tried these resources or want to recommend new ones. Thank you!