A retirement home for gay and lesbian pensioners is to be opened in Madrid.

The home, developed by the 26 December Foundation, will be opened next year in a state-of-the-art converted hotel in Lavapiés.

Federico Armenteros, the foundation’s president, told the Guardian that society “thinks elderly LGTB don’t exist”.

He said the home would not exclude straight people, but would attempt to fill a gap in the market: “We’re not going to ask you who you sleep with when you apply, anyone can come, the only thing to bear in mind is that it specialises in elderly LGTBs.

“As it is, there are homes for ex-servicemen, nuns or retired workers from specific companies and no one says they are being discriminatory.

“We want elderly people to feel useful, that they have a good time and feel at home.”

He added that in traditional homes, elderly gay people were often forced back in the closet: “They don’t have children and grandchildren they can talk about and often they conceal their sexual orientation to avoid rejection.”

The home will be accompanied by a civic centre, which will provide painting classes, physiotherapy, a University of the Elderly, and a gym.

Homosexuality was criminalised in Spain until 1979.