December 10, 2008
And Don’t Forget Andorra
A British gay couple describe their adopted home and ‘gay life’, such as it is, in this remote country.
by Richard Ammon, GlobalGayz.com
It’s hardly a secret that homosexual people are everywhere, despite the strongest wishes of some conservative devotees of denial.
GlobalGayz receives daily news and reports from around the world that proves our presence in every country as well as Antarctica where a healthy crop of lesbian-flavored scientists rotate in and out of that daunting continent.
We also receive individual commentaries from unexpected places such as Sao Tome and Principe off the west coast of Africa where being gay means no more than being left-handed.
Recently we received another report from another postage-size country, Andorra, high in the Pyrenees between Spain and France—a fortunate location between two pro-gay cultures. Here in the mountains lives a pair of expat Brits who run a restaurant. Their original message read: “I wondered if you would like to feature our little restaurant on your sight. We have been here for 20 years and run an openly gay friendly business and often give information and help to people visiting Andorra, as there seems to be very little information on the country.”
Our response, of course, was to encourage follow-up comments about this little known place and to inquire about the attitude toward gays from the locals.
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andorra) traces the historical drama of Andorra as it bounced between secular and religious governance for a thousand years. Today, “given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in transportation and communications have removed the country from its isolation. Its political system was thoroughly modernized in 1993, the year in which it became a member of the United Nations and the Council of Europe… The politics of Andorra take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, whereby the Prime Minister Of Andorra is the head of government and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.”
As for gay rights in Andorra, Wikipedia again states (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Andorra ): “homosexual acts are legal in Andorra. The age of consent is 16 for all. In 2005, they legalized civil unions including having the right to adopt.”
So much for the official descriptions. At the personal level, the gay restaurant proprietors have written the following commentary about their lives and their adopted homeland.
“ This is how it goes: we moved to Andorra in 1987. Bob and I have been together 22 years in May of next year. Bob was originally Scottish but lived most of his life in Alderly Edge in Chessire. We met in Guernsey, where I was originally from, got together and decided to move to Andorra.
“ We had seen an advert in one of my mums magazines and decided to go and have a look. We bought an apartment that weekend and still live there very happily today.
“ Bob never had much to do with any kind of gay scene. I had lived previously in London for two years and went out a bit on the scene but never really enjoyed it that much. So little Andorra with virtually no gay scene seemed perfect for us.
“ Initially we travelled a lot for 5 years or so and then the opportunity came up to buy a restaurant just down the road from our home. I had trained in catering for two years in Guernsey so it seemed like a good idea, and it was. The restaurant continues to be very successful with all sorts of people all ages.
“ It is called Restaurant Can Pere (http://canpere.tripod.com). Our restaurant is nestled in the tiny village of Anyos and overlooked by the 16th century romanesque church of St Christobal. We get a lot of gay lads up from Barcelona especially in the ski season.
“ As for gay life in Andorra, there is always somewhere which is in vogue with the gay lads that live here –and there are quite a few who live here full or part time. Some are more open than others, as anywhere. People are no different in that regard.
“ The difficulty for the outsider is that the bar or disco that’s most favoured tends to change like the weather. There are two places at the moment but it could be some where else tomorrow. There is a website where local lads can meet each other and hook up www.holigays.net (dating site in Spanish) but it does not advertise bars or restaurants for gay men.
“ So gay life in Andorra does exist, if a bit limited. But when you have Barcelona, Sitges and Toulouse only 2 hours away it doesn’t really matter.
“ As for attitudes in Andorra, we have never come across any aggression as an open gay couple. Quite the opposite; people are very live-and-let-live and your sexuality, with the locals, really is of no interest.
“ I think un-necessary flamboyant behaviour would be noticed but only that, simply because the people here live generally a very quiet life. Two men dancing together in a disco wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.
“ Andorra follows very much the Latin mentality of Spain and France and the laws are very modern, following very closely what Catalunya does, and Catalan law tends to be very modern and progressive compared to the rest of Spain.
“ For example Bob and I had the chance to legalise our relationship with a civil partnership 3 years ago and while going through the process in the registry office did not feel any kind of discomfort. The women we dealt with seemed quite exited for us and a bit curious. it was an interesting day for us and them.
“ So that’s pretty much the attitude in Andorra: basically there isn’t one! We continue to live very happily and comfortably here and run our little restaurant with pride and passion. So if anyone wants to drop in they will always get a warm welcome and a good home-cooked meal.
“ Our web site is http://canpere.tripod.com It’s a bit basic we are working on a new one, but it tells you all about us and the restaurant menus.”