Spanish Queen alone in anti-gay comments
The Spanish royal court distanced itself from comments expressed by Queen Sofia in a new published biography where she says homosexuals can wed but cannot call it marriage.31 October 2008
MADRID – The Spanish royal court distanced itself Friday from comments expressed by Queen Sofia in a new biography in which she opposes homosexual marriage, among other political comments.
Queen Sofia had told a biographer that homosexual marriage, which was legalised in Spain three years ago, cannot be considered "marriage" at all.
"Gays can wed, but they cannot call it marriage," the queen is quoted as telling Pilar Urbano in the journalist's new book La Reina muy de cerca (The queen up close), which was presented Thursday.
"There are other possible names," she adds, suggesting "social contract" as one example.
The new biography is the first time Sofia has made public comments on political issues.
The queen was making the comments "in a private framework," a statement from the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid said. The queen's comments had also been misquoted, the palace said.
Author Pilar Urbano said Sofia spoke out against gay marriage, abortion and quotas for women in politics. Urbano rejected the palace's claim that the queen had been misquoted.
"The quotations in my book reproduce exactly what the queen said," Urbano said.
The queen knew from the start that her conversations with Urbano would be published in a biography. The book is being released in conjunction with her 70th birthday, which falls on 2 November. The author also published a biography of the queen 11 years ago.
Queen Sofia said the book had been reviewed by the royal palace before publication and given "the green light".
Gay and lesbian rights groups were in uproar Thursday and demanded that the Royal Palace issue a retraction.
"This is a tremendous surprise," exclaimed Antonio Poveda, the head of the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (Felgtb). "[The royal family] which represents all citizens, is questioning the rights of some of them. It's unheard of."
Some leftist politicians argued that the queen's comments violate the traditional political and ideological neutrality of the Spanish monarchy. Parliament legalised gay marriage in 2005 in the face of opposition from Catholics and conservatives.
The monarch also criticised gay pride parades saying that she can "understand, accept and respect" the fact that there are people with other sexual tendencies, but questioned why they should be proud of it and "get on floats and show up at demonstrations".
"If all of us who are not gay demonstrated... we'd cause gridlock," Queen Sofia is quoted as saying.
Poveda and other activists said they are shocked at the "frivolity" of the queen's comment.
"The gay pride parade is a symbol of our struggle to end the homophobia that exists in Spain," Poveda noted.
In Urbano's book, the queen also comments on a wide range of domestic and foreign issues, as well as discussing her and King Juan Carlos' relationship with Spanish and foreign politicians.
Of US presidential frontrunner Barack Obama she says he seems like he would make a "sincere, intelligent and effective" leader. "I feel very satisfied at the possibility that a black man can go so high," she says.
However, the queen also shows a soft spot for Hillary Clinton, Obama's rival in the Democratic Party primaries.
"They were merciless with her. They paint her as an ambitious woman who uses the influence of her husband for her own benefit [...]. The poor thing must have suffered a lot [...] The Hillary that I know is a woman of great human qualities [...] I like her. With Bill Clinton there was good chemistry very quickly. The king and him connected very well," Queen Sofia says.
Regarding criticism of the monarchy in Spain, the queen casts off attacks such as the burning of pictures of her husband by Catalan nationalists.
"Worried? Never. It was a few university students, it wasn't widespread. But... we hadn't seen that before. I told them [in the palace]: 'They're just photos, they're not burning us... they're burning photos, pieces of paper, it will get put out'," she recounts.
[dpa / El Pais / Ángeles Espinosa / Expatica]