Explainer-Are LGBTQ+ rights at stake in the Spanish elections?

By Enrique Anarte

MADRID (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have taken center stage ahead of Spain’s July 23 national elections.

Opinion polls predict that Alberto Nunez Feijoo’s conservative People’s Party (PP) will win the election after four years of a coalition government by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists and leftist Unidas Podemos.

But Feijoo would probably need the support of the far-right Vox party to form a government. Vox has strongly opposed LGBTQ+ rights.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why are LGBTQ+ advocates worried?

Local elections in May paved the way for PP-Vox coalitions in several Spanish municipalities.

Vox made headlines in May by hanging a sign in a Madrid building showing a hand dropping cards with symbols representing feminism, communism, the LGBTQ+ community and Catalan independence into a trash can.

A new Vox-led authority in the small eastern town of Naquera said last month it would no longer display the rainbow flag on public buildings.

In Valdemorillo, a small town near Madrid, the new PP-Vox council has canceled a performance of a theatrical adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s novel “Orlando”, in which the protagonist changes gender.

What do right-wing parties advocate?

Vox and the PP have promised to take action against certain pro-LGBTQ+ measures adopted by the left-wing government.

They both pledged to change a self-determination law that came into force in March, allowing trans people over the age of 16 to change their legal sex simply by notifying the official registry, rather than undergoing two years of hormone treatment .

The law also allows children over the age of 14 to change their legal gender with parental approval.

The PP and Vox, as well as some women’s rights groups, argue that the legislation endangers women in single-sex spaces and have accused the left of forcing children into medical transition.

“Changing gender is easier than getting a driver’s license,” Feijoo said. Vox party leader Santiago Abascal said “the ‘trans law’ discriminates against women”.

But the parties did not specify which parts of the law they would revoke. The legislation also banned so-called ‘conversion therapy’, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity, and unnecessary surgery on intersex babies, who are born of neither gender. male nor female.

The PP and Vox declined to respond to requests for comment.

Vox has also proposed allowing parents to remove their children from sex education lessons and lessons about sexual and gender diversity.

What are LGBTQ+ activists saying?

Spain is fourth in the LGBTQ+ rights ranking of European countries by advocacy group ILGA-Europe, but LGBTQ+ activists have said a PP-Vox government would strip their rights.

Several international surveys rank Spain among the most LGBTQ-friendly societies in the world, although hate crimes against the community increased by 68% between 2019 and 2021, according to data from the Ministry of the Interior.

A right-wing government could also target LGBTQ+ rights by failing to implement existing laws, said Uge Sangil, head of the LGBTQ+ umbrella group, FELGTB.

“We could go back 40 years,” Sangil said.

For some, a PP-Vox coalition could also delay long-awaited measures like the inclusion of a non-binary option on identity documents.

“It wouldn’t just mean rolling back rights – we would have next to no chance of moving forward,” said Darko Decimavilla, a non-binary activist.

(Writing by Enrique Anarte; editing by Jon Hemming. Please credit Openly, the LGBTQ+ news website of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit https://www.openlynews.com)

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