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LGBT American requesting advice

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sisepuede
6/10/2018 15:43 EST

Hola! I’m new here, so please be gentle with me. I am an LGBT American. Things are getting pretty dicey in my country, especially for transgender people. (Yes, I’m transgender.) Our great orange emperor has instituted many anti-transgender policies that actually put people like me in some degree of physical danger. Meanwhile, laws are being passed everyday that enable and expand discrimination against LGBT people. In just over a year, our civil rights have been dialed back by a couple of decades or more.

This is in stark contrast to just about anywhere else in the western world—the EU in particular. I have been watching Spanish LGBT law evolve for a couple of decades now, and the accomplishments have been nothing short of stellar. The new (November 2017) anti-transgender discrimination law in Valencia is incredibly good—light years beyond anything we could hope to have during the remainder of my life in the US. There are also excellent laws protecting transgender people throughout many of the autonomous communities. It is my hope that the PSOE can pass anti-trans discrimination laws at the national level fairly soon. And of course there are already excellent laws regarding sexual orientation at the national level. I didn’t even mention healthcare: Weakened though the Spanish public healthcare system might be (via the 2012 austerity measures of the PP), it is still leaps and bounds ahead of what we have in the US. Furthermore, I will probably lose access to healthcare in 2019, due to sabotage by our current administration. I will be left to fend for myself with non-Obamacare insurance, and they don’t sell to anyone transgender.

Obviously, my partner and I are considering immigrating to Spain. My biological father was Spanish, so I have a legal claim to citizenship. We can also come there on a “golden visa,” perhaps running a bed and breakfast.

I have been warned that things are not too good there either. I am of course aware of the separatist movements and the government’s sometimes brutal crackdowns. Spain has had its dealings with fascism, and I know there is a fear of returning to that state. (The US, on the other hand, has no recent experience with fascism, and we seem well on our way to embracing it.) I know there are also issues with racism in Spain, just like here in the US. However, as far as I can tell, though, Spain is more tolerant of LGBT people than the US, and there are fewer anti-LGBT hate crimes there (based on 2014 statistics). I believe it was also in 2014 that Spain was ranked the most LGBT-friendly country in the world, with 88% of the population replying that LGBT people deserve the same civil rights as everyone else. Even so, this warning still echoes in the back of my head.

So my question to all of you WITH FIRSTHAND FAMILIARITY WITH CONDITIONS IN BOTH COUNTRIES is whether Spain is indeed a safer country for LGBT people. Furthermore, if it is, what would be your recommendations for where we should relocate—and why? (We are currently thinking Valencia—great antidiscrimination laws, low hate crimes rates, pretty, and we are also told friendly to Americans.)

Thank you all so much for any advice you can offer!

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sdamazo
6/10/2018 17:05 EST

Valencia is a good choice for any kind of gender and as far as I know, there isn't any kind of danger for you.

I really like Valencia and always saw people having a good time there. However, better stay there for some time and see for yourself before committing to it.

I know that Catalonia is not currently safe due to political and social issues and the government and EU are expecting civil unrest.

Cheers

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sisepuede
6/10/2018 17:10 EST

Thank you, sdamazo!

How are attitudes towards Americans in Valencia? Does everyone hate us (more than... er... before)?

Also, I think I will be pretty good with Spanish, but I think my partner might be rougher around the edges. How English-friendly is Valencia?

Thanks again!

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sdamazo
6/10/2018 17:23 EST

Another thing, there is a lot of fake news on fascism and intolerance in Spain. It is a campaign created by the Catalan extremists to promote manipulation and deception.
Change in the government will not affect your plan. Power hast just shifted hands in Madrid.

Healthcare is not expensive either and available to anyone.

There is plenty of choice from Madrid, San Sebastian, Malaga, etc since it is a lovely country. No way you cannot have a good life with your partner.

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sisepuede
6/10/2018 17:32 EST

Interesting about the fake news! Also not surprising. I guess it's a worldwide phenomenon. Thanks for explaining.

With regard to healthcare, I was referring to my losing healthcare here in the US if I stay. There was rampant healthcare discrimination in the US prior to the reforms of the Obama Administration. It was only through "Obamacare" that I could finally buy insurance and access affordable healthcare. We managed to hang on to Obamacare in 2018, but I think it will be irreparably damaged by the current administration in 2019.

Spanish healthcare sounds awesome! :-D

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sdamazo
6/10/2018 17:51 EST

Where did you get the idea that Spanish hate Americans? It is not true.

Post-Trump is not a regular talk among the Spanish people, except the traders and politicians, or to monitor the events.

There is a lot of foreign living in Valencia and any other major city and they speak good english everywhere. No need to be concerned with that.

When renting, better ask where in Valencia to find the best places.

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sisepuede
6/10/2018 18:02 EST

Perhaps I'm just self-conscious and embarrassed for my country. Truly, we're pretty awful right now. I had visited other parts of Europe in 1982 during the Ronald Reagan era and got a rather icy reception in some parts -- London and Paris, anyway. I found the Spaniards were quite nice. I had spent time in Madrid and Segovia.

Thanks for the reassurances about English. That will be important especially for my partner. We will of course do our best to learn as much Spanish as we can, but it will be important initially for us to lean on English speakers.

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mikea2160
6/10/2018 19:05 EST

Thanks for asking these questions. We are a gay couple nearing retirement planning on moving to Spain next year. We share your concerns about the current situation in the United States but also want to make sure we aren't jumping into another untenable situation. We will spend about $25K for health care in the US this year so health insurance is a primary concern of ours. If I understand the Spanish system we can join after one year (about $60 per month until turning 65) and they will cover pre-exisiting conditions but not prescriptions. We are relieved to find that the insulin we pay $285 per vial for here goes for about $30 in Spain. We've been all over the map in our plans on where to move, primarily considering the Costa Del Sol but my consider the northern coast. My spouse has a condition that make it uncomfortable for him to be in too much heat. Sorry, not trying to hijack your thread, just nice to hear other LGBT Americans with similar feelings/concerns.

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sisepuede
6/10/2018 19:20 EST

Mikea, no worries! It's good to know we're not alone.

We wonder about healthcare too. Our understanding may be fuzzy: As we understand it, we can come into Spain on a "golden" visa (1M Euro investment portfolio or 500k Euro real estate). That will permit us to work and pay into Social Security, which will allow us to enroll in public healthcare. I am uncertain whether there is any minimum work/income requirement that must be reached before we qualify. Do you happen to know?

My partner will cross the line into Medicare this December, but she will have to give that up when relocating to Spain. Unfortunately private insurance will not cover her preexisting condition (a cancer diagnosis a few years ago -- although all is well for now). Until we qualify for public healthcare, she will have to be on both Medicare and private insurance for Spain, so that she can return to the US for treatment if she has a recurrence.

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sisepuede
6/10/2018 19:29 EST

Mikea, you might be interested in anti-LGBT hate crimes stats I found (from the first half of 2014) See here:

http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fcadenaser.com%2Fser%2F2014%2F07%2F28%2Fespana%2F1406505011_850215.html

Dividing out by current population, I found an anti-LGBT hate crimes rate per million people of:

21.68 Balearic Islands
12.47 Asturias
11.09 Andalucia
10.70 Aragon
8.09 Galicia
4.9 Castille y Leon
4.78 Murcia
3.83 Valencia
3.33 Canary Is.
3.17 Roija
2.45 Castilla - La Mancha
1.84 Estremadura
1.56 Navarra
1.55 Madrid
0.4 Catalonia
0.0 Cantabria

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HFOsle52
6/11/2018 04:38 EST

Hello LGBT American.
I'm straight, 66, right of center, conservative but progessive. And I live in spain, originally from NYC. I've been here 2 years and, horribly, have to move back to the USA this year.
Regarding the LGBT thing, I don't think it's an issue here but I am also ignorant of the lifestyle and the problems or blessings that come along with it. Every culture "hates". I don't think the spanish culture gives a damn if your gay, straight, lgbt, or from mars. Of course I haven't lived in every corner of the country and live in a mid sized city right now.
Now, let me tell you the BAD first. Drivers (on the road) are a bit aggressive but I think this is all over europe. Parking is usually tedious and you are much better off with a small vehicle. Housing is not expensive but buying a property (we didn't) is much more expensive than in the US. Mind you, it's a different quality but the one thing we miss is the large closets, kitchens, etc you find in US housing. On the other hand, you can usually walk out of your housing here, unless your out in a rural area, and walk to the bakery, grocery store, etc. Jobs here are very hard to find. You are not going to get rich here but having a B and B may give you a nice life. The other horrible things about spain, well, I can't think of any.
I mean unless you don't watch your weight!! We are here over two years and are still fascinated the way fish is available here and how educated everyone is about food. You just don't buy sardines here, you buy certain sardines at a certain time, at a certain day of the week and cook them a certain way. And this is true of vegetables, fruit, all fish and almost everything else you eat. Bread here is an art form... EVERYWHERE here. Wine, geez. I can buy an excellent young bottle here for 3 euro that would easily cost you over 10 dollars there. PS, meat here is not too good but everything else beats the crap out of food in the US.
You mentioned insurance and medical costs, well my friend, we pay less (and we are not citizens) for health care here than we did in the US with Medicare. Our daughter is learning disabled and for approx. 300 USA we have everthing covered except some dental stuff and prescriptions. And than, you'll find, that medicine here is much cheaper than in the US.
Everyone goes out here, you live at the gym, in bars, out on walks, riding bicycle, etc. Everyone here is nice. This is the MAJOR thing we are going to miss. Spain has 45 million of the nicest people I have ever met. Your doctor will be your friend, the local policman will invite you for a drink (he won't pay though, spaniards are extremely cheap), the mailman will tell you a joke, the cashier at the market will ask about your family. You will fall in love with everything here and that's before you realize the amount of history and culture that is beneath your feet.
We live in a place that you can be skiing in 1.5 hours and at the beach in 10 minutes. We can be in France in two hours or in Portugal in 6. We can get on a ferry and be driving, in our own car, in England.
There are social problems here but not like in the US. No one carries a gun. There are some Muslims haters but I've never met any. The gay hate thing here is non existent as far as I know.
I do find it ironic that the spaniards have created this ridiculous problem (stemming from the Franco years mostly) that the catalans don't want to be spanish, that the basques are different, that the andaluces are, well, andaluce, that Gallegos are, etc., etc., etc. I see it, I hear it, I see the slight differences, I understand the issues but it just seems to me that if everyone just relished the life they had they wouldn't give a rat's ass that there are differences.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Come over, put politics out of your mind, and just be whatever you want. This is spain, they live a lot more than we do

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sisepuede
6/11/2018 08:29 EST

Thank you, HFOsle! If I might ask, are you returning to the US for personal reasons or because Spain won't renew your visa? (One of our fears is that we invest in an expensive Spanish home to satisfy their "golden visa" requirements, only to have the government change its terms years later and tell us we cannot renew our visa. High end Spanish real estate seems comparable here and there, but we will lose about 18% to taxes and realtor fees between buying and selling.

I value your perspectives about the people of Spain. What you have written confirms my brief experiences from long ago (1982), as well a everything I have recently read. Thanks for sharing them with me. And good luck with your resettlement back in the US.

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HFOsle52
6/11/2018 11:14 EST

what do you mean by "golden visa" requierments? I came over (three of us) proving income, FBI, fingerprints and insurance. I got a one year visa that I renewed, easily, for a two year visa and can renew next year for another 2 year and then 5 year. The only think we can't do is work, and frankly, we haven't applied for a working permit because, there "ain't " no jobs. And as far as expensive homes are concerned, if you stay rural, you can get a fixer upper for 100,ooo euros. No, we are not leaving because of Spain. This is paradise (as long as you don't need employment income). We are leaving for personal reasons and not happy about it. And, if I can arrange it, I won't leave. I love this country, these people, this food, this wine :).

any more questions, ask away

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anlgza
6/11/2018 11:44 EST

My partner and I have lived in Barcelona for the past 2 1/2 years and have been very happy with the private insurance we have with Atlantida. They were the only ones that accepted our preexisting conditions...with stipulations that there would not be coverage for them initially. We pay approx. 160 euros per month with little or no copay and no deductible. Their main offices are centrally located for lab and dental. There participating provider list gives us several choices in each specialty. Try to enroll before the age of 60 as this can make it more difficult to get coverage. I turned 60 last year and this year I have had a colonoscopy, CAT scan of my kidneys, an ER "Urgencias" visit, and a thyroid ultrasound... all after consultation with the associated specialists...with no additional charges. Preauthorization was required but very easy. Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions.

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anlgza
6/11/2018 12:10 EST

To add more about our experiences, we have felt very safe in Barcelona and have visited Valencia several times where it might be somewhat cheaper to live. We have been active in two Gay choruses and have no problems holding hands in public (beyond my deeply seeded resistance after living in Texas for over 50 years.) The press have over-emphasized the existing discord in Catalunya and the president who sent the national police to try to prevent voting here has been impeached. So we can say with regard to LGBT issues we have had no qualms about Spain.

On a different note, you should be aware that Spain bases income tax ie. Renta, on world-wide income. They have also had a wealth tax ie. Patrimonio, payable annually based on net worth. Though the income tax is reasonable especially with the taxation treaty that minimizes "double" taxation, the wealth tax is making us reconsider. Government pensions are exempt from income tax, which we do not have. And the deduction for the wealth tax was reduced from 750K to 500K per individual so there is no joint consideration or pooling of the deduction for married couples. So based on our retirement savings and assets we would have to pay between 15K-25K annually. We are now in Medellin, Colombia and considering splitting our time between the two countries to avoid being tax residents, though countries are starting to discourage this by checking your passports closely when applying for residency visas. You might want to look at Madrid as they have a wealth tax discount of 100%, ie no wealth tax.

Again ;if you have more questions, don't hesitate.

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sdamazo
6/11/2018 12:31 EST

When did you leave Catalonia? Assessment is not accurate regarding the catalan extremism.

Either way it is not safe for newcomers and house purchase is not that high. Plenty of good places not expensive.

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sisepuede
6/11/2018 18:39 EST

HFOsle52, the "golden visa" or investor visa allows you to get residence if you invest a certain amount of money in Spanish stocks, have a large enough bank balance, or buy an expensive enough piece of real estate. Our income isn't particularly great at this moment -- nothing that would impress the Spanish government.

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sisepuede
6/11/2018 18:49 EST

anlgza, Thanks! Your insurance plan sounds great. We had looked into international insurance and found it to be rather pricey, besides the fact they excluded coverage for my partner's cancer until 10 years with no recurrence. I am hearing stories of better plans purchased from within Spain, including yours, I will see whether Atlantida will answer a few questions for us.

I can relate to your deeply-seeded resistance to holding hands in public, and I am relieved you are able to do so in Valencia and Barcelona. That says quite a lot indeed. I don't think I would try that in the purple state where I live.

Thanks for the warnings about taxation. I am learning more about this in recent days. I didn't know the wealth tax deduction was dropped from 750k to 500k or that it was so regionally dependent. Madrid is officially on our radar now. We're not big city people, and we really crave coastal environments, but we also don't want to be destroyed by taxes. So many hard decisions.

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sisepuede
6/11/2018 18:58 EST

sdamazo, I've heard a growing consensus about Catalonia being unsafe. I always pay attention to consensus. :-D I have a Spanish expat friend who pretty much reinforces everything you've said about news coverage being overblown but the area being generally of questionable safety -- not for LGBT reasons, but because of regional tensions. I also have a transgender activist friend with lots of connections with the Catalan separatists. She says the news is NOT overblown and that Catalonia is unsafe. Either way, I fixate on the word "unsafe." Enough for me! ;-)

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Mherrera18
6/11/2018 19:16 EST

Go to the south! We’re retiring in Sevilla in July. Renting a place near the old part of the city and loving the idea of being in a city an not needing a car.
The weather is a bit hot in the summer, but dry. Lots of cultural activities and very friendly people.

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anlgza
6/12/2018 00:25 EST

We left yesterday. The extremism is mostly incredible sights of thousands of people coming out, taking to the streets in non-violent demonstrations. These people obviously care about their heritage but not to the point of endangering. their families. It is amazing to see all ages out each evening enjoying each other, sipping their favorite wine or beer with the children playing, and the elderly walking casually among them.

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teacherquinn
6/12/2018 12:37 EST

Hello! As the proud mother of a gay daughter and a queer daughter I hope you find your place in the sun. My husband and I have made two planning trips to Spain and will retire there from California in 2021. Our goal is the Valencia area. Though I haven’t seen discrimination during our visits, I worry enough about the changing culture in the US with 45 and his racists agenda that we feel any place is safer than here. We found Valencia to be a beautiful, welcoming city. LGBTQ folks were out and about, not afraid to show affection.

Along with the acceptance of differences, the lower health care costs, the lower costs of housing, the higher quality of life, and many, many other reasons...have you sampled their wine......we are anxiously waiting for 2021.

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sisepuede
6/13/2018 07:14 EST

Teacherquinn, thanks so much for your encouraging words and for being such a great mom! I miss my mom, who died long ago. I know she would be excited for me to find safety and acceptance in her beloved Spain. I wish you and your family all the best in your relocation. Perhaps we will see each other on the streets of Valencia. :-D

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sisepuede
6/13/2018 07:23 EST

Mherrera, we probably will stick with the south of Spain -- particularly the Mediterranean coastline. (We're water people.) How exciting that you will be in Seville starting July! I hope you have a wonderful retirement there!

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Tallen0910
6/13/2018 11:01 EST

I have been reading this thread, and thought I would just post a reply. I am a early retired, gay, single, American and I live in Denver. I am planning on visiting Valencia for three months starting in September of this year. Just to try it out and see what life is like there. From what I have read and heard Spain in general is a very tolerant country, and Valencia in general typifies that acceptance of LGBT. I’m hoping that it is easy to meet likeminded people there. If it is not.....my trip may not go so well ??

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Tallen0910
6/13/2018 11:02 EST

I have been reading this thread, and thought I would just post a reply. I am a early retired, gay, single, American and I live in Denver. I am planning on visiting Valencia for three months starting in September of this year. Just to try it out and see what life is like there. From what I have read and heard Spain in general is a very tolerant country, and Valencia in general typifies that acceptance of LGBT. I’m hoping that it is easy to meet likeminded people there. If it is not.....my trip may not go so well ??

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cwells67
6/13/2018 14:17 EST

Hi, sisepuede, I can give you some input. I am gay and my husband and I recently spent 3 weeks in Valencia, where I have both lived for two years in the past (from 2013-2015) and visited since for extended vacations. In fact, we plan to move back to Spain as soon as we can make that happen with online jobs. To the questions you posted: I can empathize with the cross-national feelings of being an American (in the Atlanta, GA area) and knowing firsthand what Spain is like for LGBT residents. In short, it is great. People really don't care who you are holding hands with, they don't care if you are married to a same-sex person, they don't care if you are somewhat outside of the "norm". My husband is significantly younger than I am, and they don't even bat an eye at that. We walked pretty much all over the city holding hands, and aside from some older ladies giving us the frowny face, nobody cared.

But let's talk personal for a minute: My friends in Valencia are all kinds of people, too, and the fact that I am a man married to a man makes absolutely no difference. I have family there, and my Spanish family treats me like, well, family. As far as political movements go, the Spanish people on the street don't care what the political party is, but they DO care if someone is being mistreated by the authorities.

So, as a transgender person, what should you know? Medications may not be available in Spain, as some medications (referring specifically to Truvada) may not be available. I would find a way to check that you will be able to buy what you need at the pharmacy. Want to know why I recommend Valencia? Check out my blog at www.ValenciaAtLast.com... I am definitely a huge fan of the city! :-) Kind regards, Christopher

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sisepuede
6/13/2018 20:45 EST

Thanks, cwells! What you've written is extremely reassuring. With what my partner and I have learned from this thread, our apprehensions have pretty much melted away. We've shifted from questions of "whether" to plans of "how" and "when."

Thanks for the warning about pharmaceuticals. Neither of us currently has any pharmaceutical needs; however, I would like to check a few likely medications that might be involved in treating my partner's melanoma, should she be so unlucky as to have a recurrence. Do you happen to know where I could find a list of approved medications in Spain?

Thanks again for sharing with us. You have offered us a lot of comfort that we are on the right track.

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sisepuede
6/15/2018 10:53 EST

Everyone, I found an article on Valencia's official website (www.valencia.es) about how Valencia is trying to become a major LGBTI-friendly tourism destination. See here:

http://www.valencia.es/valencia/noticias/NOTICIA_060983?lang=1&seccion=5&nivel=5_2_6&temId=6

Translation:

Sandra Gómez has presented the actions developed in the framework of this policy.
THE TOWN COUNCIL PROMOTES VALENCIA AS A HOSPITAL TOURIST DESTINATION AND TOLERING WITH THE LGTBI COMMUNITY.
 Sandra Gómez and Francesc Colomer have p
 Sandra Gómez and Francesc Colomer have presented actions developed to promote Valencia as a tourist destination LGTBI.

«The city of Valencia is hospitable, open, inclusive, respectful to everyone». This was stated today by the Tourism Councilor, Sandra Gómez, in presenting the city model for which the current municipal government team calls: "a model that goes beyond respecting the sexual orientation of each person, who aspires to be a reference of freedom and tolerance and a friendly tourist destination with the LGTBI community ».

Image gallery

Councilor Sandra Gómez, accompanied by the autonomous tourism secretary, Francesc Colomer, spoke on the eve of the LGBT Pride that is being held in Valencia tomorrow, of the actions carried out in the field of tourism promotion in this city to achieve which will become a destination «LGTB Friendly». "We want to be part of that group of cities that give visibility to diversity, in an explicit way, and we work so that one day it is no longer necessary".

"With this objective, we have promoted a working group with all the agents of the sector involved and we have participated in fairs, congresses and other specialized initiatives to provide services to this segment of the population," explained the councilor, who also announced that , in this framework, the City Council will participate in the events organized in the city on the occasion of LGTBI Pride Day. Likewise, it will be present in the acts that, with the same purpose, will be carried out on June 30 in Barcelona and on July 7 in Madrid.

Sandra Gómez, who emphasized that Valencia has also participated in the elaboration of the updated LGBTL plan and in the Guide of the Valencian Community LGTBI-Friendly, two initiatives of the Valencian Tourism Agency, announced the celebration of a Urban Tourism Trends day, scheduled for September, to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by the tourism sector with respect to this specific population segment.

In addition, Valencia Tourism will be the main sponsor of the TTG LGTB Conference to be held in London on July 4, "a few days that will discuss issues like the habits of LGTBI travelers."

Francesc Colomer, as the head of the Valencian Tourism Agency (AVT), recalled that this body that manages Valencian tourist policies "has, among its guidelines, this term, the promotion of the Valencian Community as a destination".

«The hospitality of a society is put to the test and examined before diversity, according to its capacity for acceptance and according to its attitude that should be responsible and open to all people. This is the basis without which we would not understand the tourism industry and, of course, the offer for the group that, on the other hand, represents 14% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) », explained Colomer.

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chupanama
11/9/2018 09:24 EST

I live in valencia, valencia, in the oranges not the city, for a few years now and i have traveled the usa for 10 years between the millennium.
since the last post here things have changed quite a bit in Spain.
if somebody is still interested, i might be able to shed some light - preferably by PM and rather not as a normal post.

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