Spanish gays urge conservatives to back off plans to negate rights

Posted on 21 Feb 2008 at 2:20pm
By Harold Heckle – Associated Press

Popular Party has pledged to roll back same-sex marriage, other rights enacted by Zapatero’s Socialist government to benefit gays, lesbians


Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

MADRID, Spain Scores of gay demonstrators gathered outside the conservative opposition party’s headquarters on Feb. 16 to oppose its plans to withdraw their newly won rights.

Gay groups are concerned that, if voted into power in the March 9 general election, the Popular Party will reverse legislation allowing them the right to marry and to adopt children.

"We’re gathering to ask the PP to change its homophobic attitude," said Antonio Poveda, president of Spain’s Federation of Gays and Lesbians.

"We’ve fought hard to achieve equal rights and are appalled by this party’s stated wish to turn the clock back to Spain’s repressive past," Poveda said.

The Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero legalized gay marriage in July 2005 and passed legislation allowing gay couples to adopt.

The PP immediately appealed against the laws at the Constitutional Court and its leaders have pledged that if elected they will overturn adoption rights and downgrade gay marriage to a civil union.

Protesters carried banners reading "Rights are fought for. We are for a secular State," "No to religious dictatorship" and "Democracy is a daily battle."

The PP is backed by Spain’s staunchly conservative Catholic Church.

Besides Spain, the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium have legalized same-sex marriage, while Britain and some other European countries have laws that give same-sex couples rights to form legally binding partnerships.

In the United States, Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay couples to marry. Oregon this month became the ninth U.S. state to approve spousal rights for some gay couples.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 22, 2008.

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