Marriage? On Radical Genealogies, Queer and Feminist Protests and Austerity Times in Spain

In Spain there is a long and quite strong tradition of radical sexual mobilization from the 1970s on. However, the moderate section of the LGTB movement turned from the previous civil union demand to that of same-sex marriage after 1998, and this meant an important change in claims-making, desexualizing protest, among other things. A discourse based on sameness (and not dierence), citizenship and human rights, was used to convince politicians, media and society in general that same-sex marriage was not only necessary but something that had to do with equality and justice; sexual dissidents could no longer be second-class citizens. Framed in universal terms, the demands of moderate LGBT organizations became resonant and caught the ear of policy makers (Calvo and Trujillo, 2011).

In the mean time, lesbian feminist and queer groups criticized that marriage was the political priority for the LGTB movement (the marriage law was finally passed in 2005, while the one related to gender identity had to wait for 2 years more). These critical voices underlined the heteronormative and patriarchal structure of the marriage institution, and also the danger inherent to narratives about ’normalization’. On the other hand, rights discourse, which has been already classified (and criticized) as a global trend, the more so as international organizations and institutions accept the identification of LGBT rights as human rights has, as we know, certain limits: by inserting sexual dissidents into larger narratives around citizenship, sexual movements might be missing a unique chance to engage with a transformative dialogue where social categories, ideas about family relations, sex and love could adjust to grass-roots diversity and dierence.

The current economic and political crisis and austerity measures in Southern Europe do not make things easy as far as being non- heterosexual and as intimate relationships and different ways of doing kinship are concerned (Trujillo and Santos, 2014). Living precarious lives might be forcing people into trying to obtain legal recognition and assure certain economic benefits. We can, nevertheless, also make strategic uses of the marriage law, marrying people who need legal papers.

In my presentation, I will explain the radical queer and feminist genealogies of sexual protest in Spain, how and why the moderate section of the movement concentrated all its efforts on the demand to same- sex marriage and its consequences and what it is happening now, more than ten years later after the marriage law was passed and in the context of the crisis and austerity politics.