A Spanish court has overturned a ruling ordering a bisexual man to pay emotional and economic damages to his ex-wife for supposedly concealing his alleged homosexuality.
Human rights lawyer Javier Vilalta had been amicably divorced from his wife for over a decade when she launched a lawsuit on the grounds that he concealed his sexuality before and during their three years together.
The woman only decided to pursue legal action in 2020 after mutual friends told her that Vilalta had “always been homosexual” and had had gay relationships.
Vilalta said that while it was true he had experimented during his adolescence, he had also had many relationships with women before getting married.
“I wasn’t gay at that time – I had had a brief homosexual experience,” he told The Times. “What we’re trying to show with this case is that sexuality is fluid.”
His ex-wife demanded an annulment of their union and €10,000 in compensation, claiming Vilalta used her “as a social refuge” to hide his homosexuality – despite him not being homosexual.
Vilalta insisted that his sexuality shouldn’t and didn’t preclude him from having a relationship with a woman.
“Even if we admit that Javier was in a relationship with a man in the past, in any case, there is no reason why a bisexual person cannot have a happy marriage,” his attorney argued.
Lawsuit didn’t even consider the possibility that Vilalta was bisexual
Shockingly, a judge sided with the ex-wife, arguing that she would not have gone ahead with the marriage if she had known about his “true sexuality”. He ordered Vilalta to pay her €1,000 for each year they were married – a total of €3,000.
The woman’s lawsuit didn’t even consider the possibility that her ex-husband was bisexual, her case perfectly epitomising the problem of bi erasure and harmful biphobic stereotyping.
Vilalta immediately appealed the lower court’s ruling. “The trial has been shameful and the sentence a slap in the face,” he said.
He also warned that the ruling could encourage the idea that homosexuality can be penalised and discourage other LGBT+ people from coming out in future.
“[It sends] a message to anyone outside of heterosexuality: ‘Hide yourself because in the future they will be able to judge you, because your privacy is not the norm,’” he told El Pais.
This week Valencia’s high court finally reversed the decision, arguing that it was not only discriminatory, but also that it infringed Vilalta’s privacy. No person should have to declare their sexual orientation in court, the judgment said.
“I feel peace, justice and happiness,” he tweeted after the ruling was announced.
Vilalta also said he hoped that the judgment would go some way towards reforming Spain’s “backward, conservative” laws.