Huge numbers of people celebrated LGBTQI pride in Spain on Saturday, with police estimates putting the crowd in Madrid at 400,000 people, though other sources state over a million.
Marchers converged on Madrid’s Atocha train station for the event, which was held under the slogan “History, struggle and memory,” and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
in 1969 Spain was still under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, a fascist ally of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini but who kept Spain out of World War II.
The Franco regime ruled Spain from 1936 to 1975, six years after Stonewall.
The Franco regime actively persecuted homosexuals, with thousands of people jailed or sent to “rehabilitation” centres, and Spain’s law criminalising homosexuality was not repealed until 1979.
Since then it has grown to become one of the most LGBTQI friendly places in Europe and is a popular destination for gay tourists, though the emergence of the far-right populist Vox party in Spain has alarmed some.
Spain is one of the few countries to have compensated people who were convicted of historical consensual sexual offences for being gay and the government paid out 624,000 euros to victims between 2011 and the close of a 2013 deadline.
Spain became only the third country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2005, after Holland and Belgium.