Intro: An updated story about this remote and beautiful country of Andorra high in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. Yes, there are LGBT people here, as everywhere, but their numbers are few and there is no gay organization.
by Richard Ammon
Updated March 2013
It’s hardly a secret that homosexual people are everywhere. 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.
Some time ago 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.
In the high mountains 3500 feet above sea level is the capital city of Andorra la Vella where for for 25 years a pair of expat gay British partners ran a restaurant in the suburb of Anyos, La Massana . Their original message read: “I wondered if you would like to feature our little restaurant, Can Pere Restaurant, on your site. We 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.”
GlobalGayz 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. It became the story posted below.
However, since they first wrote (2008) some things have changed and much has not.
The most significant was the 2011 demise of one partner, Bob, of the couple as described in the story. Bob was only 64 at the time of his pulmonary embolism. His surviving partner, Dave Le Ray aged 43 at the time, said Bob had had a collapsed lung as a child and smoking certainly did not help. Nevertheless the death was a shock.
Dave was the chef for the restaurant and today carries on the tradition of gourmet service nightly with a varied menu featuring Chinese, Thai, Italian, Indian, French and English dishes. Typical of the area, meals are not served until 8:00 pm. For a look at the restaurant and the surrounding beautiful mountains of Andorra see their website: http://www.canpere.net/ (photo left, ski slopes in April)
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 same sex acts are legal in Andorra. The age of consent is 16 for all. LGBT couples have been able to register their partnerships under the name ‘Stable Couple Union’ since 2005, although such couples cannot adopt children but one partner can apply to adopt. Andorra prohibits discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation.
I have re-posted their original story which they wrote about their lives and their adopted homeland.
“ This is how it goes: we moved to Andorra in 1987 soon after we got together. Bob was originally Scottish but lived most of his life in Cheshire. We met in Guernsey, where I was originally from. 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 and all ages.
“ It is called Restaurant Can Pere (photo right). Our restaurant is nestled in the tiny village of Anyos and overlooked by the 16th century romanesque church of St Christobal. (photo above) 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 or Mingle2.com 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 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. (photo left, Dave)
“ For example Bob and I legalised our relationship with a civil partnership in 2005 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!”
Dave continues to live comfortably here and run the restaurant with pride and passion, although with a saddened heart. Nevertheless he says, ” if anyone wants to drop in they will always get a warm welcome and a good home-cooked meal. Our web site is http://www.canpere.net/ that tells you all about us and the restaurant menus.”
“In another change in Andorra, the advocacy organization, SomComSom (“As We Are”) apparently disbanded after its major goal was reached in 2010. This regarded the controversy over allowing gay blood donations. It was partially resolved when the Blood and Tissues Bank of Catalonia (Barcelona district) agreed to accept blood from gay donors (http://www.diariandorra.ad/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=2941#). It was considered a victory since most of Andorra identifies with the Catalonian language and culture–despite the French blood bank’s (Établissement Français du Sang) continued rejection of gay donor blood…”
As Europe modernizes–especially now France with it new gay marriage laws–with more equality laws Andorra will no doubt follow with its own updated version of modern LGBT rights.