Spain is one of the countries with the richest homosexual history and demonstrates radical liberation of mind. In 1970, the country’s pioneering secret group, Movimiento Español de Liberación Homosexual (MELH; Spanish Homosexual Liberation Movement), was founded in Barcelona. It was a response to the draft bill for La Ley de Peligrosidad y Rehabilitación Social (the Law of Social Danger and Rehabilitation), through which the Franco dictatorship wanted to criminalise homosexuals.
From 1971 onwards, MELH held numerous secret meetings at different locations in Barcelona to avoid prosecution. When Francisco Franco died in 1975, MELH members and others homosexual activists established Front d’Alliberament Gay de Catalunya (FAGC; Catalonia Gay Liberation Front). This group worked extensively for the rights of homosexual individuals and had considerable impact to the LGBT community.
In 1976, when there was a hint of democracy, Armand de Fluvià (Catalan genealogist and heraldry) and a group of activists founded El Casal Lambda (the Lambda Institute), which acts as a hub for services targeting LGBT individuals. On 28 June 1977, the first LGBT demonstration was held in Barcelona and was subsequently held annually as what we call today – Barcelona Pride. There were lot more specialised groups created to, for example, fight against AIDS, open new horizons to general public through cultural activities, and organise LGBT film festivals, etc.
The radical and positive change and liberation of mind in recent years have granted opportunities to institutions to discuss openly LGBT issues during lectures. Related topics are included in the teaching materials so that students could speak freely and lecturers could make responds and moderate the discussions. For instance, in the Spanish class for exchange students at my university, one of the weekly themes was about love. In the handouts, there did not lack the homosexual elements, like same-sex partners, relationships, adoption, marriage, etc. Unlike in Hong Kong, we rarely talked about that in an academic context. During that week of lectures, we shared information about the general view to homosexuals and discrimination and protection to this particular community in different countries. There I realised how distant we are now to equality and a harmonious society.
I believe there are a considerable number of homosexuals, bisexuals, or transgender individuals in Hong Kong and in Spain. Obviously, not every household could be open-minded enough to accept their sons and daughters having different orientations. There is a video describing the difficulties faced by homosexuals in mainland China, which echoed a lot of painful and upsetting life stories there in some traditional Chinese contexts. In Spain, coming out to one’s family is also a challenging task to accomplish. However, the government has been updating various ordinances and providing extensive support to parents, youngsters, and all the members in the LGBT community over the years, of which they are arguably insufficient in Hong Kong.
It is believed that this is a long-lasting battle all over the world. Understanding the LGBT communities could aid liberation of our mind. There have been too many rumours deflecting a rational mind over decades or even centuries, yet, I firmly trust that there will be a day when acceptance is a trend and labelling is to be vanished.
Photo: Avenida Reina María Cristina, Barcelona (from Barcelona Pride)