At the very end of the 20th century, LGBT normalization ultimately consolidated. In the four-year period between 1995 and 1999 there was a new flood of new LGTB associations and organizations, as well as progress in legal matters or the birth of the first Gay neighbourhoods. There was even a deputy (and subsequently candidate for the Presidency of the Generalitat) who came out of the closet.
The Spanish LGBT community has been fighting for their rights since the 70s. At the beginning, they started demanding visibility and the end of the harassment they suffered during the dictatorship. In the 80´s, they fought to be accepted, and to get rid of the stigma that HIV supposed for the community. However, it was not until the last 5 years of the 20th century when the LGBT Rights in Spain started getting a legal recognition. The years between 1995 and 1999 are essential to understand the fully normalization of the Spanish LGBT community.
In 1995, Barcelona’s Court passed a groundbreaking sentence: for the very first time in Spain, a judge acknowledged that a gay man had the right to receive a compensation after the death of his companion in an accident if they were registered common law partners. This sentence was a leap forward in terms of LGTB normalization in the country, since, soon afterwards, many courts passed similar sentences in San Sebastián, Mallorca or Málaga, among others.
In 1998, the Parliament of Catalonia became one of the first in passing the Civil Partnership Act in the country. It was the first time that the rights for couples who weren’t married were regulated, and it applied to both, straight and homosexual couples. Thanks to this Act, civil partnerships could be entitled to claim the survivor’s pension, paid leaves, healthcare and even alimony. The Catalan legislation became a role model for other Spanish regional parliaments and, in just a few years, up to 13 of them had approved similar acts, which meant that LGTB normalization in Spain was legally consolidated.
LGBT organisations stayed very active during the late 90s. In 1995, Jordi Petit, one of the activists who founded the Coordinadora Gai Lesbiana de Catalunya, was elected Secretary General of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), and he was even re-elected for the same position two years later. During his tenure, the ILGA association was welcomed by the UN Human Rights Commissioner for the first time.
While many organizations focused on demanding rights for the LGTB community in Spain during the 70s and 80s, by the end of the 90s there was an emergence of organizations that focused on different social areas, thanks to the LGTB normalization process in Spain. In 1995, the association AMPGIL (Asociación de Madres y Padres de Gays, Lesbianas, Trans i Bisexuales), which stands for Mothers and Fathers of Gay, Lesbian, Transsexual and Bisexual people, was founded for parents that offer each other support to understand their children’s reality and to help them in the fight for their rights. Sin Vergüenza (Without Shame), an association for young gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual undergraduates who were seeking for full integration in the student community, was also created during this period.
It was also 1999, when the association Grup d’Amics Gais (GAG) started organizing plenty of activities for the gay community, such as workshops, debates, conferences, outings, and many leisure plans. That same year, the organization Panteres Grogues (Yellow Panthers) was born with goal of achieving LGBT normalizations in the sports, providing gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual people with a place to practice sport in a relaxed and free atmosphere.
Institutionally speaking, there was also progress towards LGTB normalization. The Catalan Socialist deputy, Miquel Iceta, became the first politician who declared his homosexuality publicly in Spain.
In the cultural aspect, Casal Lambda continued to focus on organising activities related to this field, and they put together the first edition of the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival “Fire!” Two years later, the first issue of Nois (Boys in Catalan) was published. It was a free magazine specifically addressed to the Gay community that, unlike other gay magazines that had been published so far, didn’t stem from an organization.
However, it was the emergence of the first gay neighbourhoods which clearly contributed to increase the visibility of the LGTB normalization process in Spain. In the mid-90s, the Gaixample and Chueca, appeared in Barcelona and Madrid respectively. Both cities followed the example of the Castro neighbourhood in San Francisco, or Old Compton Street, in London. At first, there were only little concentrations of gay bars, which eventually turned into the epicentre of LGTB life. Thus, in addition to leisure premises, there were also small gay-oriented businesses and services, and, at the same time, part of the LGTB community moved to these places.