Federico Armenteros, president of the 26 December Foundation, which is behind the scheme, said that as far as society was concerned “elderly LGTB don’t exist”.
He said the home would not be exclusively for gay people. “We’re not going to ask you who you sleep with when you apply,” he said. “Anyone can come, the only thing to bear in mind is that it specialises in elderly LGTBs. As it is, there are homes for ex-servicemen, nuns or retired workers from specific companies and no one says they are being discriminatory.”
Until late 1978, gay people in Spain were classified by law as “dangerous” and faced prison or internment in re-education centres, as well as having their movements restricted. The foundation takes its name from the date the law was reformed.
Boti García, president of Spain’s LGTB federation, said: “When people think of LGTB people, they think of young people. There’s a tendency, as there is in society as a whole, to leave out the elderly.”
Armenteros said elderly people in general were not as accepting of gay and lesbian people, and as result some went back into the closet in old age, especially if they were in a home. “They don’t have children and grandchildren they can talk about and often they conceal their sexual orientation to avoid rejection.”
The foundation is also planning a civic centre for the same community in the Lavapiés neighbourhood of Madrid, due to be completed within the next few months. It will offer painting classes, physiotherapy, a classroom for the University of the Elderly and a gym, among other things.
“Neither the centre nor the home will be places to park old people,” said Armenteros. “We want elderly people to feel useful, that they have a good time and feel at home.” The home is due to open in 2015.