In 1901, a young man and his bride stood before a priest in a Catholic church in Galicia, northern Spain, to be wed. So far, so normal. However, in a twist that would scandalise the deeply conservative Spanish society of the time, it turned out that, while the bride was indeed a young lady by the name of Marcela Gracia Ibeas, the groom ‘Mario’ was in fact Elisa Sanchez Loriga.
The wedding was far from an impulsive affair. The duo had been dating for years, having first met in teacher training college. Before too long, Marcela’s mother found out and sent her daughter to Madrid to put an end to the affair for good. However, upon qualifying as teachers, the pair managed to get jobs in schools close to one another. The relationship was back on, and now they wanted to find a way to get hitched.
The plan was simple enough. Marcela would return home and announce she was engaged to be wed to Mario, a cousin from London. And it looked like the plan would work. Mario was baptised into the Catholic faith and the wedding went ahead, with the happy couple even posing for photos after the ceremony. But, sadly for the newlyweds, a local journalist soon got wind that something was up. The local newspaper, La Voz de Galicia exposed their ruse under the headline “A wedding without a groom”.
The story, revealing the truth, was soon published, and the pair became infamous right across Spain. So great was the scandal they caused that Marcela and Elisa were forced to flee to neighbouring Portugal. But even here, they feared they would be arrested, so they booked tickets on a boat to Argentina. But not just two tickets. Marcela walked down the aisle while pregnant with an unknown man’s baby. The infant was born in Porto and joined the duo in their transatlantic crossing.
Sadly, that’s where the story ends, with historians unable to determine what happened to Spain’s illicit lovers.
Spain moves step closer to gender self-identification
The Spanish government has approved the draft of a bill to allow anyone over the age of 14 to change gender legally without a medical diagnosis or hormone therapy, the Equality Ministry said.
The draft bill, which will go to a public hearing before another reading in the cabinet and a vote in the lower house of parliament, removes the requirement for two years of hormone therapy and a psychological assessment to switch gender in official records.
“This is an historic day after more than 15 years without any legislative progress,” Equality Minister Irene Montero said.
“We send a strong message for the protection of LGBTI people,” she said, referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.
The “self-ID” draft bill sets age limits, with 14 to 16 year olds needing parental approval, after parliament’s rejection in May of a proposal from a group of political parties to give children total freedom to legal gender recognition.
Activists and families of transgender children say the draft bill does not go far enough, while some feminist associations oppose it.
With the draft bill, which also bans LGBT conversion therapies, Spain is set to join two dozen countries aiming to decouple gender choice from medical procedures and would become the largest European country to introduce self-identification.
If approved, trans people will be able to declare their gender by filling in a form at a registry office and then confirming the decision three months later.
The draft bill is part of a political agreement signed between Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and its left-wing junior coalition partner Unidas Podemos. The deal has taken months of negotiations due to the conflicting positions of the two governing parties.
Saida Garcia of the Euforia non-governmental organisation, which supports transgender children, said the bill failed to accommodate people aged 12 and 13, who require court approval for the process, and younger children who are excluded.
“It’s not true self-determination if there are age limits,” she said, adding there was also no provision for non-binary people, who do not identify as male or female, or non-Spanish residents.
Aida Chacon Martinez, the mother of a non-binary teenager, said: “Waiting until you’re 14 to be recognised for who you are is very hard.”
A collective of about 50 feminist groups said it opposed the bill. “These legal reforms are regressive and it is essential to stop them in order not to lose the protection of the specific rights against gender-based oppression,” said the Confluencia Feminista federation in a statement.
Reclaim Pride London March
24 July 2021, 1.00pm Parliament Square
Join the fabulous people’s Pride march for LGBTI+ liberation.
The Reclaim Pride march will leave from Parliament Square in London soon after 1.00pm on Saturday 24 July, and proceed via Downing Street and the Uganda High Commission in Trafalgar Square.
We will pause at these two landmarks to respectively protest against the government’s stalling on LGBTI+ rights and Uganda’s persecution of LGBTI+ people.
This community-led march gets back to the roots of Pride, being both a celebration and a protest for LGBTI+ rights, with five key LGBTI+ liberation demands:
Ban LGBTI+ conversion therapy
Reform the Gender Recognition Act
Safe haven for LGBTI+ refugees
Decriminalisation of LGBTI+ people worldwide
Solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Reclaim Pride puts our human rights back into Pride. Every marcher is urged to make and bring a placard highlighting a LGBTI+ issue that concerns them. We want to make Pride once again an event where our on-going demands for LGBTI+ liberation can be seen and heard.
The Reclaim Pride march replaces the traditional Pride in London parade, which is postponed until 11 September.
It is being sponsored by UK Black Pride, Diva magazine, Lesbian Visibility Week, London Trans Pride and the Peter Tatchell Foundation, with many more LGBTI+ organisations expected to sign up and participate.
All LGBTI+ organisations, individuals and allies are invited to participate. There are no fees or wristbands. Just turn up.
Everyone is asked to wear a face mask and keep socially distanced on the march.
March route: After going from Parliament Square up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, the #ReclaimPride march will take a similar route to the UK first ‘Gay Pride’ march in 1972: Cockspur Street, Lower Regent Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street, entering Hyde Park at Speaker’s Corner. There it will culminate with a mass “queer picnic” in Hyde Park, just like in 1972, with marchers bringing their own food, drink, sweets and music for a post-march DIY party.