top of page

The 90s brought a hint of modernity to Barcelona. The Mediterranean city was about to host the Olympic Games, an event that would introduce the city to the rest of the world. The Spanish Gay Rights Movement in the 90s was a fundamental part of Barcelona’s modernization. There were still many issues that needed to be dealt with and the HIV/AIDS was still causing a lot of havoc, but the community was getting closer to achieving its targets. The 90s were a pivotal decade regarding the normalization of the LGBT community in the Spanish society.


The fight against AIDS was still the main purpose that laid down de guidelines of the Gay rights Movement during the 90s. The sickness spread so violently that the situation in Barcelona became a very worrisome one. In 1991, the 900 Pink was created. It was a free phone service that provided the LGBT community with information and support all over Spain. The 900 Pink remained active until 2013, when it was cancelled due to the budget cuts imposed by the Spanish government because of the crisis. The life of this initiative spanned 25 years, and it was a reference service in the country.

Also in 1991, the group Gais Positius was founded. This group was only composed of HIV-positive members who supported each other in order to cope with their low life expectancy and the many grieves they had to face. In fact, this was the first Spanish organization of its kind that provided mutual support. It should be noted that, by that time, seropositive people were almost invisible for the rest of the society. They even struggled to integrate themselves in the gay community.

In 1994, Gais Positius finally became a legal organisation and continued its task to increase seropositive people visibility and normalise their situation, not only in society but also inside the Gay Community. Nowadays, Gais positius is still active and it remains as the only Spanish organisation with only seropositive members. Since 1994, they organise national meetings with HIV-positive people and associations from all over Spain, under the National AIDS Spanish Plan.

Prior to that, the Spanish Gay Rights Movement welcomed a new NGO: Projecte dels NOMS – Hispanosida, which worked to increase the visibility of people affected by the HIV in society and bring them support. In 1994, they organised their first International AIDS Memorial. This service is still being carried out nowadays and has become one of the most important events in Spain dedicated to the millions of lives that have been claimed by this disease.


In 1993, Barcelona hosted the International Lesbian and Gay Organisation conference (ILGA), which is organised every year. More than 200 representatives from LGTB international organisations attended the event, thereby focusing on the intolerance that some countries have towards homosexuality or racism. Holding this conference was another victory for the Spanish Gay Rights Movement in the 90s, which was once again, setting the political agenda for political parties and institutions.

In 1991, the Gay and Lesbian Christian Association, ACGIL (Associació de Cristians Gais i Lesbianes), which is still active nowadays, was also founded. This group will work for the normalization of gays and lesbians in one of the most belligerent institutions that were against the LGBT community: the Church. The main demand of this association was that their members should be able to live their faith and sexual orientation in a natural way in society, as well as within the Church.

Unfortunately, and despite all the progress made by the Spanish Gay Rights Movement during the 90s, the murder of Sonia Rescalvo darkened the LGBT community hopes. Transsexuality was still marginalised in society as a whole. It was on October the 6th 1991, late at night, when a group of right wing radical skinheads gate-crashed in the Ciutadella Park, which was a popular gay cruising point in the city at that time. They saw two transsexual people who were sleeping outdoors, Sonia and Dori, and started beating them up, and kicking their heads with their iron-tipped boots. Such was the brutality that they ended up killing Sonia. This was the first murder of a transsexual person solely because of being one (or at least the first one that for which there is evidence).

This was a major turning point, both legally, because it changed the way justice works when dealing with hate crimes, and for the transsexual community and the fight for their rights as well.


Editor's note:
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.

bottom of page