Why is it that people in Spain are still very religious, but homosexuality is still the most accepted?


A while ago in school we learned about places where religion is still very important. When the teacher said that in Spain many people still strictly observe their religion, I was surprised. I had heard some time before that research showed that Spain is one of the countries most accepting of homosexuality. Usually those two things don’t go well together. How come it is there?

Asker: Steve, 15 years old


I would first strongly relativize both elements of the statement:

  • There is still a part of the Spanish population that is strongly Catholic, but in general Spanish society is very secularized. This was already the case during the Spanish Civil War, but has become much stronger since the end of the Franco regime. The average Spaniard is not that ultra-Catholic.
  • Spain is not that progressive when it comes to gender equality, and LGBT rights in particular. Zapatero in particular was in favor of this, and met with strong opposition: the recognition of same-sex marriage (2005), relaxation of adoption, abortion and divorce (2006) and a government with more female members than male members (2007) could always count on demonstrations in Madrid and criticism in conservative newspapers such as El Mundo and opposition to the Catholic Partiduo Popular.

The turnaround seems remarkable, but is in line with other Western societies: increased prosperity, urbanization, secularization, women studying and working outside the home, cautious role models in media (Almodovar’s films! Mecano’s songs!)… it helped all to change ideas. Zapatero forced that, and ultimately paid for it with an election defeat – but the turnaround could not be reversed.

Answered by

Dr. Karl Catteeuw

History of upbringing and education, Romanian, music

Catholic University of Leuven
Old Market 13 3000 Leuven


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