Bisexual man ordered to pay ex-wife thousands after she accused him of hiding his homosexuality. Only, he’s not gay
A bisexual man has been ordered to pay emotional and economic damages to his ex-wife for the supposed crime of hiding his sexuality.
In a case that perfectly epitomises the problem of bi erasure, Spanish attorney Javier Vilalta was accused of concealing his “homosexuality” from his ex-wife, from whom he amicably parted in 2009.
The couple were married three years but had been in a relationship from the age of 16 to 34, during which time Vilalta’s sense of his sexuality began to change.
“When I got married I was heterosexual, I want this to be very clear. That’s how I felt,” he told El Salto. “As a result of my divorce I had doubts about my personality and with a therapist I discovered that I was bisexual. And this I told my ex-wife in 2016.”
The woman only decided to pursue legal action a decade after the divorce when mutual friends told her at a dinner party that Vilalta had “always been homosexual”.
She told the court she would never have married him if she’d known about his “true sexuality”, alleging her former husband had used her “as a social refuge” to hide his sexuality.
She demanded an annulment of their union and €10,000 in compensation for the deception. Her lawsuit didn’t even consider the possibility that he was bisexual.
Vilalta’s lawyer maintained that he never misled his wife, and 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,” the attorney argued.
Unfortunately the judge ruled against him and ordered him to pay his ex-wife €1,000 for each year they were married – a total of €3,000.
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“The trial has been shameful and the sentence a slap in the face,” Vilalta said. He is frustrated that the judge didn’t seem to take his sexuality seriously or consider how sexual orientation can evolve over time.
“There is a lot of evidence about this, such as the Kinsey [scale] which makes it very clear that your sexuality is being formed from the moment you are born,” he said.
More than that, he is concerned about the legal precedent his case sets, suggesting that many queer people “are now afraid to come out of the closet” having had heterosexual relationships.
“The seriousness of this situation is that we are witnessing a moral trial, which violates several fundamental rights of passage,” he told El Pais. “The fact that the trial was held shows that there is neither freedom nor sexual equality, and that homosexuality or bisexuality can be penalised.”
His concern is shared by social worker and sociologist Ferran Senent, an expert on equality and diversity. “It is a public trial about a person’s sexual orientation,” he said.
“[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.'”