Sunday, May 28

this was the therapies in Spain to “cure” homosexuality

The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera was a legal step for the rights of homosexuals.

In response to a certain opening in the Franco era, in 1970, the Law on Dangerousness and Social Rehabilitation appeared, which contemplated “sentences of up to five years in prisons or asylums for homosexuals and other individuals considered dangerous so that they will be rehabilitated”

Cesar Cervera

Over the centuries, Spain has moved from the most absolute rejection of homosexuality, towards tolerance, then understanding and finally respect and equality. The battle was slow, painful, and several steps back. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, the left and the right agreed on their negative perception of this sexual orientation. Some because they considered it immoral and degenerate from the religious point of view; others, the sectors of the left, because they imagined it a decadent vice typical of aristocrats, priests and modernists. Without going any further, it is usually attributed to the famous feminist Carmen de Burgos a rather thinly veiled threat: “When those of Pablo Iglesias come to power, homosexuals will be put in their place.”

In remote times “sodomy” was condemned with death (in 1497, the Catholic Monarchs ordered that “any person, of any status, condition, pre-eminence or dignity, who commits the heinous crime against nature […] that it be burned in flames of fire in the place, and by the Justice to whom the knowledge and punishment of such a crime belongs”), but the truth is that in the contemporary history of the country there was never an excess of zeal when persecuting to homosexuals. The Penal Code of 1822 did not include it as a crime due to the French inspiration of the law, a country where homosexuality was decriminalized in 1791, while in the penal codes of 1848, 1850 and 1870 it was punished only with death. ambiguous figure of the “public scandal” .

The current that was gaining ground on the eve of the Second Republic was that, more than a crime, it was a disease that had to be cured. Physicians of the time Gregory Maranon considered homosexuality a “perversion” due to altered hormonal factors:

«There is, therefore, no doubt that, in any boy, an education of a very masculine type will stimulate the development not only of his virile habits… but also the development of his specific tissue, of his virile organs, that is, of an anatomical and permanent condition. At the same time, it will naturally hinder the development of the feminine elements of him. And inversely it will happen in a girl, depending on whether or not she is educated in an environment of femininity… The increase that we observe today in girls with physical stigmas of virilization… seems to me undoubtedly due to excessive sport, that is, to the abuse of a virile activity ».

One step forward, two steps back

the stage of Rivera’s cousin it was, at a legal level, a step backwards for homosexual people. The dictator’s obsession with the supposed moral regeneration and the extinction of low passions materialized in 1928, when “unnatural” acts in both heterosexuals and homosexuals were prohibited. Not in vain, the new Criminal Code of 1928 introduced an aggravating circumstance for homosexual practices that notably increases the penalty compared to having committed the same crime by a heterosexual. For example, article 69 on “dishonest abuse” specified that “when it takes place with people of the same sex as the guilty party, the penalty of two to twelve years in prison will be imposed”, much more than in the same case but with a different sex. .

With the proclamation of the Second Republic Luis Jiménez de Asúa, member of the PSOE, and the parliamentarian of the Radical Socialist Party Victoria Kent They drafted a new Penal Code that abolished the aggravating factors of homosexuality introduced by Primo de Rivera. The Civil War broke with all these advances and glimpsed the repression of the Republicans who had lived their homosexuality more openly. The poet Garcia Lorca He was not the only one shot for his condition, but he was the most famous.

Tribute plaque to the homosexuals imprisoned during the Franco regime in the old provincial prison of Huelva.

Although at first the regime was more concerned with its political enemies than with homosexuals, the dictatorship limited to a minimum the few public spaces that they had managed to conquer in the first part of the 20th century. In addition, in 1954 the legal basis for their persecution was laid by modifying the Law of Vagrants and Maleantes, originally promoted by the Second Republic for “the control of beggars, ruffians without a known trade and pimps”, with the aim of including homosexuals among the crimes prosecuted. To whom it applied ‘la Gandula’ they could be sent for one to three years to do hard labor breaking stone in quarries or building new roads and highways. In these places they were subjected to abuse and humiliation of all kinds.

The Malaga prosecutor celebrated the new law in the Report of the Supreme Court of 1971 due to the “increase of the nefarious sodomitic vice, promoted on the Costa del Sol by strange elements that congregate there”

From the sixties, certain advances began to be glimpsed in the country, although always on a private level, thanks to the arrival of tourism, the emergence of lively bars and a middle class that began to travel and discover other worlds. Once again the action was followed by their reactions… In response to this small opening, especially in coastal areas, in 1970, the Law on Dangerousness and Social Rehabilitation appeared, which contemplated “sentences of up to five years in prisons or asylums for homosexuals and other individuals considered dangerous to be rehabilitated. The prosecutor of Malaga celebrated the new law in the Memory of the Supreme Court of 1971 due to the «increase of the nefarious sodomitic vice, fomented on the Costa del Sol by strange elements that congregate there».

a long battle

The Law of Social Danger it punished “acts of homosexuality”, but not homosexuals for their condition in itself, which meant going back to the times of Marañón. That is, it was believed that it was not a crime, but a disease that should be cured. As Monferrer Tomàs, professor at UNED, explains in his study ‘ The construction of protest in the Spanish gay movement: the Law of Social Danger (1970) ‘, “sexual inverts were classified as genuine congenital (or by birth) or occasional (vicious)” and the law spoke of curing them as a “method of preventing contagion” and, instead of isolating them in prisons or asylums, they were taken to rehabilitation centers.

Lesbian and bisexual women did not suffer this harsh persecution because legally they were not persecuted and they were invisible, but the reported homosexuals were systematically interned in centers where they tried to convert them into heterosexuals with emetic and electrical therapies (electroshock). If all this did not work, the most radical method was lobotomy: a surgical intervention to modify the brain. This was practiced in private clinics and in the Carabanchel prison, as explained Javier Ugarte Perez in his work ‘A universal discrimination’ (Egales, 2008).

Also in democratic countries, including the US, there were then laws hostile to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals. Just when Spain was processing the Law on Dangerousness and Social Rehabilitation in a neighborhood of New York there was a series of demonstrations and violent protests after the umpteenth raid against the pub known as Stonewall Inn . These protests marked a turning point for the international LGBT movement and laid the foundations for the first associations and protests in Spain.

Upon Franco’s death, the protests gained more and more volume to decriminalize this sexual choice, which did not happen until 1979. What’s more, three years later the Public Scandal Law was approved against provocative behaviors (nudism, exhibitionism, ‘voyeurism’). ‘ or homosexuality), which allowed arrests for the simple fact that two men were holding hands on the street. Formally, the total repeal of the Law of Social Danger it was not produced until 1995.

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