A few words can change the reality of millions of people and even entire societies. This was the case in Spain when, on 30 June 2005, the Congress of Deputies, representing Spanish sovereignty, passed the law 13/2005 to legalise same-sex marriage.

In spite of the long political and social road to its approval in Congress, only a small amendment was needed to the Civil Code to adapt this law. The terms “husband” and “wife” were replaced by “spouses” and “father” and “mother” by “parents“, and a second paragraph was added to article 44: “Marriage shall have the same requirements and effects when both parties are of the same or different sexes”.

 

A pioneer in LGBT+ rights

 

When the law came into effect on 3 July 2005, Spain became the third country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, just behind the Netherlands (2000) and Belgium (2003), and in the same year as Canada.

Thanks to this law, Spain was the first country to establish equality in regard to adoption between same-sex couples, given that the Law 13/2005 was approved when Dutch law still did not contemplate the adoption of foreign children and Belgian law still did not allow adoption by same-sex marriages.

 

Pedro Zerolo, one of the great promoters of egalitarian marriage, celebrates its approval at the door of the Congress of Deputies, accompanied by various LGTB+ groups. Photo: EFE/Paco Campos

 

An increasingly open society

 

The legal advances served as a motor for progress for Spanish society as a whole. If, according to the CIS, in 1994 only 46.1% of the population believed that homosexuals should be able to enter into civil marriage, by 2004 this percentage had grown to 66.2%. Today, 91% of Spaniards consider that LGBT+ people should have the same rights as heterosexuals, and only 6% are against it, according to the European Commission’s Eurobarometer on social acceptance of LGBT+ people. This percentage is only exceeded by Sweden (98%) and the Netherlands (97%). Spain is also the country where both left-wing and right-wing political parties show the greatest acceptance of homosexuality: 98% and 82%, respectively, according to data from the Pew Research Center published in June 2020.