At the End of the Rainbow: Ten Years After the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Spain

In 2005, Spain became the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Ten years after this milestone, in the frame of the European comparative project ‘Families and Societies’, interviews were conducted among 23 LGBT people in Spain in order to approach how this legal change has impacted, or not, on their everyday live in terms of activism, partnering, parenting, working and coping with homophobia and transphobia.

This paper will give a historical and sociocultural context to explain not only why Spanish LGBT people gained legal recognition, but also to analyze how this doesn’t mean social recognition.

The increased visibility of same-sex couples and trans people in the Spanish society has sparkled both a backlash in terms of the emergence of well organized homophobic groups, and the assumption of new demands coming from sexual minorities. Being a Catholic country, the campaign coming from the Catholic Church against what they call “gender ideology” has had a strong support from the hierarchy and lays religious activist groups. Nevertheless, the effect in the advance of public policies recognizing rights for LGBT groups has not been noteworthy.

Presenting the legalization of same-sex marriage as the peak of LGBT activism created a fear of emptiness when this achievement was reached. Activists feared the withdrawal of many people that had been campaigning on LGBT rights. On the contrary, this attainment has fueled a new agenda for both individuals and social movements. The struggle against hates crimes, homophobic and transphobic speeches and actions (specially in educational settings) have occupied the center stage of LGBT demands.

This paper will put into dialogue individual discourses and practices (focusing on parenting and partnering) together with social policies and political claims.