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 gay-friendly countries in the world.
Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are relatively low and it’s rare to hear of a gay son or daughter being shunned by their family here. LGBTQ+ students often report that they feel safer and more accepted here than in their hometowns and cities. That said, you may encounter homo and transphobic/antagonistic attitudes among some people here, and the recently emerged far right party, VOX, has a blantantly homoantagonistic platform that seeks to rescind the human rights gained by LGBTQ+ collectives over the last 20 years.
Happily, LGBTQ+ people are highly visible and vocal in Spain, and it’s very common to see a gay couple walking down the street holding hands, kissing or otherwise displaying 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 gay people, or in other contexts, and Spaniards may become startled if you tell them that you find it offensive. Even 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 LGBTQ+ students and their allies.
While Trans identities 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, even within LGBTQ+ communities and political forums. The process for changing names and gender assignments is long, highly bureacratic and discriminatory, in spite of vigorous attempts by Trans collectives to change it.
During Orientation we offer a lecture that includes analysis and information about resources for all LGBTQ+ people with a inclusive focus on Trans identity and justice in Spain. Our faculty and staff are diverse in terms of sexual orientation, and several of our program classes examine the social realities of LGBTQ+ collectives in Spain and Latin America.
- Perspectives on Mindfulness and Justice. Perspectives lectures are framed within the program’s abiding mission of educating about justice, intercultural intelligence and mindfulness practices.
- Queer & Questioning Affinity Group (IFG). This LGBTQ 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
- GMadrid Sports. Sports club for LGBTQIA+ people
- ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- La Mala Mujer. Space for queer women & trans people. Male allies welcome!
- Go Abroad LGBTQIA+ Travel Guide (downloadable pdf)
- 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!