The History of Madrid’s Chueca Neighbourhood

Chueca is the ultimate LGBTQ+ neighbourhood in Madrid and is named after Plaza de Chueca, a central square in the neighbourhood that is very famous. The name of the square comes from Federico Chueca, a Spanish composer and writer. It is located in downtown Madrid, very central. Part of the larger neighbourhood of Justicia.

The Chueca neighbourhood hasn’t always lived by today’s social and human values. In the 1970s, the area was linked to prostitutes and drugs, resulting in many shops having to close, and then the neighbourhood became practically deserted. After a few years, however, several shop owners returned and rebuilt the neighbourhood. This led to spectacular changes in the neighbourhood, and you can still see that today.

During the ’80s, the LGBT community settled down in the Chueca neighbourhood. Over the years, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders made of this neighbourhood, not only their place for leisure and work but also their home, in full coexistence with other neighbours and visitors. Together they transformed Chueca into one of the areas with the greatest freedom, tolerance and diversity in Madrid, setting standards for many other cities in the world.  In recent years, this has grown and grown, and now Chueca is known all over Europe for its very specific reputation. It might be the most open-minded and inclusive area that you will ever visit!

The style of the neighbourhood makes it clear immediately that this is an open-minded and inclusive area. You will see LGBTQ+ flags at the metro stations and hanging outside apartment windows. You will see clubs, bars, and shops promoting this lifestyle and being very openly gay.

“I protest for those who cannot”. Photo: AFP

Chueca is also the centre of the Gay Pride Festival which is held every year between June and July and fills the streets with music, colour, high spirits, as well as the thousands of people who flock to the neighbourhood intent on having a good time.

Some positive LGBTQAI+ facts about Spain:

1. A history of equal marriage rights: legalization of gay marriage happened on June 30th 2005. Spain was the fourth country in the world to allow same-sex couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples. Canada approved gay marriages also in 2005, while the Netherlands and Belgium legalised them in 2000 and 2003.

2. Starting a family: while other countries struggle with the issue of adoption by same-sex couples, it has been possible in Spain for years.

3. Support and recognition for the trans community: it was as early as 2007 that a Law passed to allow people in Spain to change their name and gender without the need for judicial procedures or surgeries.

4. Protection against discrimination: although there is sadly no law against sexual-orientation based discrimination, over 85% of the Spanish population lives in autonomous communities or region that offers broad protection against this type of discrimination.



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