GAY ACTIVISM DURING THE SPANISH TRANSITION (SECOND PART)
The removal of the “homosexual acts” reference from the Social Danger Act was a victory that empowered the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the Spanish Transition. Additionally, the new Constitution, approved in 1978, described Spain as a Non-confessional country, because, until then, Spain had officially been a Catholic Country. Ideally, such a relevant change should have stopped the government from using the law to impose an ideology and a religious moral.
In 1979, Barcelona’s Labour Court issued a ruling that declared that that firing a worker because of his sexual orientation was an unfair dismissal. This sentence was the first of its kind in Spain.
Shortly after, the Home Office in Spain relented to one of the main demands of the gay community during the Transition period in Spain and accepted the legalisation of the Front d’Alliberament Gai de Catalunya (FAGC). The FAGC became the first homosexual organization to be recognized in Spain. This entailed the end of hiding for the LGTB organizations, and, at the same time, acknowledged the struggle for recognition of the gay community rights, which was one of the main priorities pursued by the FAGC since 1975. The legalization was supported by 50 local councils and by at least 1000 relevant personalities of the left-wing political party.
In fact, thanks to the legalization of the FAGC’s, the Spanish Gay Rights Movement got a double victory. On the one hand, and maybe the most obvious one, the departure from hiding and the recognition of all those organizations and actions that dedicated their work to gay activism during the Spanish Transition. On the other hand, a powerful boost that helped the normalization process for the LGTB movement in society. There were ongoing campaigns that aimed to achieve a long-awaited legalization and contributed to the integration of homosexuals and transsexuals into the social system. Many left-wing parties and other movements, such as the feminists, trade unions or neighborhood organizations, provided support for the cause, in addition to the involvement of many artists.
Not in vain, 40 years of dictatorship and repression had resulted in the creation of groups and organizations that demanded greater freedom and social changes. These groups and its activists where very diverse, but they managed to coordinate and fight together due to the threat of a common enemy: repression. Joining efforts with other organizations became a valuable step that helped the gay activism during the Spanish Transition to go public and closer to a full social integration.
Not everything during this period was related to a political struggle, or at least, not exclusively. In 1979, Barcelona became, once again, a pioneer city in Spain, due to the fact that it hosted the First Gay Carnival ever in Spain, which took place in La Paloma, one of the most popular clubs in Barcelona for many decades. The same year, anothermemorable club in Barcelona, the now non-existent La Cibeles, organized an important celebration to commemorate the legalization of the FAGC. Everything seemed to show that all the effort made by the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the Transition was finally getting a reward and that the LGTB community could finally depart from years of hiding and demand visibility without being threatened by the repressive measures of the Government.
However, Barcelona witnessed a total involution only a year later. It was in 1980 when the police broke into La Luna and Men’s, two of the most popular bars in Barcelona’s gay scene at that time, with gripping submachine guns. They couldn’t allege they were enforcing the Social Danger Act anymore, so they found a new excuse; apparently, they were looking for criminals or undocumented people.
Unfortunately, the Civil Governor of Barcelona allowed this prosecution in gay bars to continue, and, in 1981, he ordered the closure of several important points of Barcelona’s gay scene. Once again, it wasn’t possible for him to use the Social Danger Act as an excuse, so he justified his decision by saying that he “wanted tourists to have a better image of the city while they were there for the World Cup”. As a sign of protest, there was an extraordinary gay bar strike on December the 9th of that year. Additionally, LGBT businesspersons replied the Governor with one of the most original campaigns of the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the 70s. They placed Naranjito (the World Cup’s mascot) using a fan on a gay flag on the front doors of their businesses, along with the slogan “Lo nuestro sí que es mundial” (a funny play on words that means: our condition is what really matters everywhere).
1981 was also the year when the Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital diagnosed the first AIDS infection case in Spain. The fast expansion of the HIV brought an unexpected new enemy that caused a negative impact on the LGBT community, something invisible and fatal that stigmatized the Gay community even more. The Spanish Gay Rights Movement, which had been focusing its efforts on the political struggle, would also lead the fight against HIV/AIDS from that moment on.
In the historical moment to which this article refers, the term gay was used in a broad way to refer to LGBTIQ + people in general.
The term gay, LGBT, LGTBI or LGBTIQ + are used interchangeably.