Guide to Gay marriages & weddings in Spain
In June 2005, gay and lesbian marriages were made legal in Spain for those aged over 18. Since that date, there have been many hundreds of same-sex weddings in various cities and towns around Spain.
In the Costa Blanca area – places such as Valencia, Denia, Finestrat and Benidorm have already held same-sex weddings and other towns such as Calpe, Moraira and Javea are expected to follow suit before too long.
None of the Churches in Spain, as yet, will agree to hold a gay ceremony, therefore weddings are held in Civil Registry Offices on certain days of the week or some areas private premises are allowed, such as Hotels, Restaurants and Villas.
The legalisation of gay marriage in Spain
It used to be that for any legal marriages, one or both of the couple had to be resident in Spain for a minimum of 2 years. This is changing all the time – there are some areas that will accept only one of the couple being registered in Spain for a much shorter time, and even some areas who will marry ‘foreigners’ who do not live in Spain.
The application of the new laws varies from town to town. The Spanish Government is gradually taking to Court those Council Mayors who refuse to comply, so it is important to obtain the most recent information regarding the current situation when researching the right area for your marriage in Spain.
Planning ahead for the Big Day
An application for marriage in Spain can involve lengthy and time-consuming paperwork, you should, therefore, allow enough time before the intended date of marriage for the application to be processed. It can take many months in reality and as a general rule, six months is required to complete the application.
In Spain, you are covered under EU and EEA (European Economic Area) common law which means that a gay marriage in Spain should be legally recognised in those countries who allow same-sex unions.
However, a gay marriage is not recognised as a marriage as such in the UK but is recognised as a civil partnership. In July 2006, a case was taken to Court by a UK lesbian couple – who had legally married in Canada – on the grounds of discrimination. Sadly they lost their case.
Only Canada, Spain and Belgium recognise gay marriage as marriage. You should check with your country of residence before committing to a marriage in Spain to ensure it will be legally recognised within their partnership laws.
Religious and non-religious blessings or commitment ceremonies can also be held in beautiful venues across regions of Spain. Many gay Spaniards prefer to opt for a humanist non-religious blessing following the official marriage ceremony.
Gay people of other nationalities also prefer to book a Civil legal wedding followed by a blessing on the same day.
The advice of a good Spanish / International Lawyer combined with a local wedding planner are well worth the costs to ensure you have the correct paperwork and the proper procedure. Despite the difficulties for many, it is worth the time and effort to have their perfect legal wedding in the sunshine.
Article reprinted with permission from Sue Coley, Javea Organisers.
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