Sex & Sexuality in Spain

This guide is about sex and sexuality in Spain, and particularly on the Costa del Sol. It covers issues like the age of consent, and LGBT rights and associations.

Introduction

Spain sticks to their typically laid-back attitude when it comes to matters of sexuality and gender. Although most Spaniards consider themselves Catholic (see our Guide to Religion in Spain), they’re decidedly secular and progressive in their attitudes towards things like LGBT rights.

Public displays of affection from all parts of the sexuality spectrum are common (and hard not to notice if you come from a more conservative country!).

However, in 2016 & 2017 there was a worrying rise in hate crimes as well as hate speech and discrimination. This applied, in particular, to the treatment of trans people. Overall, Spain slipped from 5th to 9th in the Rainbow Europe report.

Age of consent laws in Spain

The age of consent throughout Spain, for heterosexual and homosexual couples, is 16 years old. This was raised from 13 in a law passed in 2009 and enforced in 2013. Marriageable age is also 16 in Spain.

Punishments

According to the law:

Whoever performs sexual acts with a minor under sixteen years, shall be punished for sexual abuse of a minor with imprisonment of two to six years…

The free consent of the minor under sixteen excludes criminal responsibility for crimes under this chapter, if the perpetrator is a person close in age and level of development or maturity to that minor…

Whoever performs sexual acts with a person over sixteen and under eighteen by deception or abuse of a recognized position of trust, authority or influence, shall be punished with imprisonment of one to three years.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in Spain

Spain is one of the better places in the world to be LGBT.

The Spanish have a very ‘live and let live’ attitude towards sexuality and you’re very unlikely to be harassed for being openly homosexual on the Costa del Sol (unless you run into some intolerant foreigners).

Throughout Spain:

  • Homosexuality and homosexual acts are completely legal
  • Discrimination against people for reasons of sexuality or gender expression is illegal
  • The same age of consent laws apply as in homosexual relationships
  • Same-sex marriage is legal (see below)
  • Homosexuals have the same adoption rights as heterosexuals
  • Homosexuals can openly serve in the military
  • Transsexual people can change their legal gender without gender reassignment surgery

Same-sex marriage in Spain

According to Spanish law:

Marriage will have the same requirements and results when the two people entering into the contract are of the same sex or of different sexes

See our Guide to Marriage in Spain for more information.

LGBT lifestyle on the Costa del Sol

The Costa del Sol has a fantastic gay scene.

Torremolonis, especially, is a gay-friendly destination – and proud of it. The town boasts gay saunas, gay beaches and, of course, gay bars. See Travel Gay Europe’s listings or check out Gay Torremolinos.

LGBT associations on the Costa del Sol

Colegas Malaga (page in Spanish) is part of the Spanish Confederation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. Email them for information or support at malaga@colegaweb.org.

Conclusion

Spain and, in particular, the Costa del Sol is still a liberal and welcoming place when it comes to sex and sexuality: it’s one of the reason so many people are drawn there.

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