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Spain's first gay retirement home passes its first hurdle

MADRID -- A group of elderly Spanish gay men are rebelling against the homophobia of their generation by setting up what will be the country's first gay and lesbian retirement home.

"Homosexuals who go into homes often also have to go straight back into the closet," said Federico Armenteros, the man behind the scheme. "This will be a place that is open to everyone and where no one will have to hide their sexuality."

In a country where many people over 40 grew up being taught that gay people were sick or criminals, the atmosphere in some retirement homes is still crudely homophobic.

Armenteros, who heads a gay and lesbian NGO called December 26, has already found a site for the new retirement complex, with land being ceded by the leftwing town hall of Rivas-Vaciamadrid, a Madrid dormitory town.

Now he needs to find 120 like-minded people to sign up as members of the co-operative and start paying the quotas needed to raise a bank mortgage. Around 20 have already joined.

"We'll have a gym, a library, a laundrette and a conference room," he said. "We will even have our own shop and restaurant."

The retirement home would cost €1,000 (about $1,292) a month to live in, he said – much lower than the average Madrid price of €1,400 (about $1,809).

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