Madrid square honours gay rights hero

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Flickr, Espacio Joven La Plaza

A SQUARE in Madrid’s district of Chueca has been renamed after Pedro Zerola, a gay rights activist, politician and lawyer who died in June 2015, Madrid town hall announced on July 22 on Twitter.
The current square is called Plaza de Vazquez, after a noted Spanish academic and politician, Juan Vazquez de Mella, better known for his association with the conservative Catholic movement, Carlism.
After Zerolo died from cancer on June 9, supporters started a petition on change.org asking that the square be renamed after the lawyer, who made an important contribution to gay rights in Spain and had a key role in creating the marriage equality laws. The petition gathered 84,800 signatures within the last month.
As an activist in the 1990s he became a legal consultant for the Gay Collective of Madrid (COGAM) and was later president of the National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (FELGTB).
His role in changing the marriage laws involved negotiating with government officials to amend the Spanish Civil Code on the country’s legal definition of marriage, changing gender specific terms of “husband” and “wife” to gender neutral ones of “spouse” and “mother” and “father” to “parents”.
The same sex marriage laws came into force in 2005, and also allowed gay couples to adopt, giving Spain the distinction of being the first country to award equal rights in marriage to gay and heterosexual partners. Zerolo was one of the first to take advantage of these laws, marrying his partner Jesus Santos the same year.

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