On Tuesday, in the middle of Pride week, the Spanish Council of Ministers is set to approve the bill that will introduce into law both effective equality for trans people and a full guarantee of the rights of LGBT people against discrimination. The date chosen is not accidental, and this represents a historic victory.
Unidas Podemos has prevailed in this initiative before the Socialists, and, even though it compromised and agreed to merge the two original bills into a single law, has achieved two important goals. The first is to guarantee the right to gender self-determination: in other words the depathologization of trans people, who, once the law is finally approved, will be able to claim, with a simple procedure guaranteed by the state, the right to be treated as the gender with which they identify. Then, at last, Spain will have a national law to defend gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual persons and all those who are part of the rainbow coalition from any kind of discrimination.
The law will also ban so-called conversion therapies, and will establish a set of rules to protect the most vulnerable people from physical and verbal aggression. The details of the final text are not yet known, but the draft made public months ago by the Ministry of Equality, led by Irene Montero, number two of Podemos, already outlined many of these aspects.
Until now, at the level of national law, discriminatory acts that did not already constitute a criminal offense of another kind could not be specifically prosecuted as homophobic. Despite this fact, Spain is already considered one of the countries where there is a high level of respect for the rights of LGBT people: in May, ILGA, a group that brings together 600 organizations from 40 European countries, put Spain in fifth place in its ranking, while the first four places are taken by countries that already have rules for gender self-determination, like the ones that Spain is hopefully set to have soon.
The different Spanish regions, or autonomous communities, have already been legislating for more and more protections for LGBT people against hate crimes, and there are very advanced and strict regulations in force in several autonomous communities that are going in the same direction that the red-purple government is now willing to pursue at the central level.
One of the latest was the Canary Islands region, which passed a bill on the occasion of the last International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17. But such laws are also present in Catalonia (since 2014, one of the most developed such laws), in the Valencia Community, in Madrid, in Murcia, Galicia, Extremadura, the Balearic Islands, Navarre, Andalusia, Aragon, the Basque Country and Cantabria: 13 regions in total (out of a total of 17 autonomous communities).
Thus, in a large part of the Spanish territory, there are specific regulations in place to eliminate violence and discrimination to which people may be subjected solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The adoption of these laws in territories governed both by the Popular Party and by the Socialists, and always with large majorities, shows that this is now a bipartisan issue.
The party that has taken up the role of channeling all the homophobia still present in society is Vox. Wherever this party manages to have enough strength to play a decisive role, it is no coincidence that it is systematically calling for the immediate repeal of these rules (such as in Madrid). Sadly, this only foments more violence: in recent months, the attacks against LGBT people have been increasing: only in the last week, a gay couple was attacked in Barcelona, in the neighborhood of Gràcia, on the night of Sant Joan, and two days ago, a 17-year-old was attacked in València. A few days earlier, 13 people had attacked a young man in Bizkaia, shouting “You’re disgusting!” In Catalonia alone, the Observatory against Homophobia is reporting an average of two attacks per week at this point in 2021.
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