Pride Parade in Paseo del Prado, Madrid. Photo credits: EFE/Víctor Lerena.

11 July 2005. Carlos (right) and Emilio (left) under a rice shower after their wedding ceremony at Tres Cantos Town Hall. Theirs was the first same-sex wedding held in Spain, a few days after the law that made same-sex marriage legal was passed and published. Photo credits: EFE/Javier Lizón.

Spain, among the most accepting countries of same-sex marriage

According to Pew Research Center surveys, Spain stands third among the countries that favour same-sex marriage, with only 7% opposing young adults.

According to Pew Research Center, Spain is among the most accepting countries of same-sex marriage. The Washington-based nonpartisan fact tank has published the results of a series of surveys that show that Spain stands third in terms of same-sex marriage acceptance, with only 7% young adults opposing gay marriage. Only Denmark and Sweden are ahead, with 6% and 5%, respectively.

The series of surveys was conducted between 2015 and 2017 among nearly 56,000 adults (ages 18 and older) in 34 Western, Central and Eastern European countries. The maps reflecting their responses show the divide that continues to exist between Western and Central/Eastern Europe on a variety of issues, including religion, views of minorities, homosexuality and abortion. Majorities favour same-sex marriage in every Western European country surveyed, with low percentages of young adults opposing the practice (14% in Portugal, 15% in Germany, 17% in France) and somewhat higher opposition in only a few countries (20% in Ireland, 27% in Italy).

Public sentiment is very different in Central and Eastern Europe, where majorities in nearly all countries surveyed oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Georgia (94% opposition among young adults) and Armenia (95%) are the least accepting countries in the area, while countries like Russia, Ukraine and Serbia show high opposition as well (86%, 82% and 75% young adults, respectively). Even EU member states in the region are not willing to accept same-sex marriage (74% opposition in Lithuania, 70% in Latvia, 68% in Bulgaria, 61% in Croatia).

Committed to equality

Spain is always renewing its commitment to equality among citizens, irrespective of their sexual orientation, and to the struggle for the rights of LGBTI people. Our country’s commitment is apparent in another report published by Pew Research Centre: ‘Morality Interactive Topline Results’ (surveys 2013-2014; release 2014). Here Spain appeared as the country with the most positive attitude towards homosexuality, with only 6% respondents considering the practice as morally unacceptable and 38% believing it not to be a moral issue, whereas 55% considered it to be morally acceptable.

In the survey, including 39 countries, only Spain (6%) and Germany (8%) were under 10% in terms of opposition to homosexuality. Countries like Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt, Ghana, Palestine, Uganda and Tunisia were on the other end of the spectrum, with more than 90% respondents considering homosexually as morally unacceptable.

In ‘The Global Divide on Homosexuality’, also released by Pew Research Center in 2013, the results are similar. Spain and Germany stand atop the list of tolerant countries, with 88% and 87% respondents considering that society should accept homosexuality.

Same-sex marriage law: A major milestone

In Spain, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005. In 2004, the country’s newly elected Socialist Party (PSOE), led by Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its introduction. After much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the Cortes Generales (Spain’s parliament) on 30 June 2005. Politician and LGBT activist Pedro Zerolo was one of the law’s biggest advocates. Spain became the third country in the world to extend the right to marriage to same-sex couples, after the Netherlands and Belgium.

Passing the law involved amending 16 articles of the Civil Code in force. As a result, same-sex couples became entitled to other rights as well, including adoption, pension and inheritance. In addition, the law extended the right to marry to foreign nationals living in Spain and couples made of a Spanish national and a foreigner, even when the foreigner’s national legislation did not recognise the validity of such marriage.

The new law was published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on 2 July 2005. The first same-sex wedding took place in Tres Cantos, Madrid, on 11 July. The spouses were Emilio Menéndez and Carlos Baturín. They had been living together for more than 30 years. The first lesbian wedding was held in Barcelona 11 days later. Between 2005 and 2016, 39,643 same-sex couples got married in Spain.