Madrid, a Beacon of Tolerance and Diversity

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You live Madrid, but more than anything you feel it. It's always waiting with open arms; welcoming, accepting and integrating people from other places. In terms of protecting LGBT rights and equality, Spain boasts some of the most progressive legislation in the world. Same-sex marriage has been a reality since 2005. All of this is strongly in evidence in the capital, which is a benchmark for many countries where full equality has yet to be achieved.

Chueca is much more than a neighbourhood – it's held up as an example by the LGBT movement the world over. Its very name evokes the principles of freedom, respect and tolerance. This is hardly surprising as it was the point of origin of what has become an unstoppable shift towards visibility, a way of life based on respect.

A few decades ago a number of bars, restaurants and multiple businesses specialising in the LGBT market, such as bookshops and fashion boutiques, began to open in the neighbourhood. Some of these are now iconic establishments: the Berkana bookshop, Café Figueroa and the Black and White club, among others. Their presence initially surprised the neighbourhood’s lifelong residents, who have been privileged witnesses of its transformation into a hub of tolerance and modernity; a place where people can live a life free of prejudice or exclusion.

The neighbourhood is one of Madrid’s most cosmopolitan and vibrant areas. Its main nerve centre is Plaza de Chueca, and another hotspot is Plaza de Pedro Zerolo, which was renamed in 2015 in honour of one of the activists who worked the hardest to protect the rights of the LGBT community in Spain. The neighbourhood is teeming with avant-garde art galleries, the trendiest shops around, restaurants serving international cuisine and lively outdoor bars and cafés that line its streets at every turn. It bustles with life both during the day and after the sun goes down, and boasts some of the most entertaining nightlife in town.

The energy and vitality of the surrounding neighbourhoods combine with that of Chueca to offer visitors a broad and varied range of options that's difficult to match. Calle Fuencarral, for example, is indisputably Madrid's main shopping thoroughfare, Malasaña is the heart of the city’s indie scene and home to up-and-coming creative artists, and Salesas has a spirit that lies somewhere between chic and bohemian.

LAVAPIÉS AND LA LATINA

These are two adjacent, multicultural neighbourhoods. Describing them with the word “fusion” would be an understatement; it’s commonplace to see lifelong residents living side by side with their new Latin, African and Asian neighbours.  The two neighbourhoods are among the city’s oldest, and the rich ethnic diversity of their streets has made them an example of integration without compromising their authentic and traditional Madrid character.

Many new LGBT-friendly establishments have chosen to set up shop in La Latina, the most popular neighbourhood for a fun Sunday out in Madrid. Lavapiés is also home to a thriving alternative gay and lesbian scene, which goes to show just how broad the city’s range of tolerant spaces is.

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