MADRID – A crowd of more than a million people took part on Saturday in Madrid’s 2018 Gay Pride Parade commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first gay-rights march in defense of the transsexual community.
The downtown streets of the Spanish capital suddenly turned into a fiesta of music, dance, floats, balloons and rainbow-colored flags, the symbol of the LGBT community, and for the first time, two ministers of the Spanish government joined in.
The defense of gay rights like the processing of the Equality Law to ease transsexuals coming out of the closet was reflected in the banners carried by the marchers in one of the world’s biggest Gay Pride demonstrations, whose attendance authorities estimate between one and two million people.
Under the slogan “Winning equality, TRANSforming society,” the parade was headed by leaders of the top LGBT collectives together with politicians including Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, openly gay, and Health Minister Carmen Monton.
In a gesture toward the gay community, Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expressed on Twitter his support for the collective and reaffirmed his commitment to continue promoting policies of equality.
After the revolution that last year’s Gay Pride celebration signified for the capital, with almost 3 million visitors, the organizers expect this year to have somewhat fewer attendants but expect them to spend almost double.
Spain has set a worldwide standard in the fight for LGBT rights, with gay marriage legalized 13 years ago, though activists insist on the need for legislators to proceed with the Equality Law.
The current situation is a far cry from what it was at the beginning of the democracy in 1977, when homosexuality was illegal and subject to being penalized.
Real change came in the 1980s, bringing Spanish society an air of sexual freedom, but the AIDS pandemic ruled it out again, bringing back the old homophobia and weakened the movement considerably.
Notable in the struggle for LGBT rights were the measures taken by then-Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a socialist whose government passed the law of equal marriage rights in 2005.