Just How Gay-friendly is Spain?

Isabel Borrego at IGLTA, Madrid

Isabel Borrego at IGLTA, Madrid

No one attending the May 2014 International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) convention in Madrid could have been left with any doubt.


Addressing the conference, Isabel Borrego, Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism was very specific.  Spain wants to be the number one European, if not worldwide, gay holiday destination.

If that was not enough, the second day saw Madrid’s Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dorla Ortega make an unscheduled appearance to re-enforce the message.

Ms Ortega highlighted Madrid’s annual highly successful gay pride celebration and wealth of attractions that include over 10,000 restaurants (13 of which have two Michelin stars), world-class museums and world heritage sites.


A world-class gay scene

IGLTA-Conference-MadridNeither Minister mentioned the fact that Madrid (and nearby Barcelona) have two of Europe’s most extensive gay bar, sauna and cruise club scenes, with enough dark rooms to rival Berlin.  But they did not need to.  Over the past two decades, successful Spanish governments have enacted progressive LGBT rights laws that have enabled these extensive gay scenes to develop.

These huge legal strides were central to the speech at the same conference given by James Costos, the openly gay US Ambassador to Spain who said that the country is now possibly the most inclusive, non-discriminatory country in the world.


And on the streets?

How is this reflected at street level?  We crammed in 24-hours sightseeing in Madrid.  During this time, we spotted two men kissing passionately on the street in Chueca, two women kissing passionately near Retiro Park and a straight couple kissing passionately on Gran Via.  And nobody bothered to give any of them a second glance!

05-11-2014 by Nigel Phillips   |   More: Gay BarcelonaGay MadridGay SitgesGay Spain




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  1. Mr

    “Spanish beaches are disgusting places to be on especially where families are unknowingly in the same area. Dunas Atola just outside Marbella where I am at right now with my family has a terrible reputation with attacks on straight holiday makers and disgusting displays of oral sex taking place right in front of people simply enjoying a family walk or walking the dog. I am not homophobic but I do draw the line at what is permissible and within decency limits but that LBGT scene here and on most Spanish beaches should be outlawed and enforced.”

     on 06-20-2016 | Reply Problem with this review?

  2. Spain, very gay friendly, maybe more than anywhere else

    “Spain, where over 20,000 gay couples, have got married since it became legal in 2005, in my experience is very gay friendly, especially the resorts, big cities and university towns. The rural areas less so. But even there it’s changing. My town in southern Catalonia, hardly the centre of civilisation, held its first Gay Pride march two years ago and the Mayor and the President of the Deputacio came down and shook hands with people. At the end of the season last September in Sitges the normally mixed nudist beach at Balmins was packed from end to end with gay guys. Pride marches, even in far away Vigo, Galicia, proceed without any hostility. This is not to say some religious and right wing elements don’t express disapproval but they’re becoming more and more marginal.”

     on 04-06-2016 | Reply Problem with this review?

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