Spain votes to reform new sexual consent law, splitting progressive coalition


After a tense debate in the Spanish Parliament, the majority of lawmakers voted late Tuesday to take the first step in reforming Spain’s recently passed sexual consent law. The law, which the government originally hailed as a pioneering step forward for women’s rights, also unintentionally reduced prison sentences for nearly 800 convicted sex offenders. Tuesday’s vote split Spain’s ruling progressive coalition in a dramatic fashion as the Socialist Party’s proposal to change the law was backed by the conservative Popular Party and other smaller center-right parties. Progressive parties, including the junior coalition partner Unidas Podemos, voted against the motion and accused the government of backtracking on the pioneering ‘only yes means yes law’ that took effect in October. At its heart, the law removes the need to prove violence and intimidation for sexual assault, but it also reduces minimum sentences for violent offenders. ‘Tonight, the Socialists will stand with the Popular Party and (far-right) Vox to eliminate consent from the penal code so authorities can again ask us if we kept our legs closed, how many times we said no, and how hard we tried to resist,’ said Podemos politician Lucia Munoz in parliament, who accused the government of ‘betraying’ the thousands of women who fought for the change. Munoz argued that rape can occur without violence, such as when a woman changes her mind in the middle of the night, when a man removes a condom without permission or when a husband penetrates his wife against her will. The Socialist Party says it wants the law’s core to remain the same, but it feels obliged to change the legislation to increase sentences for violent sex offenders. ‘We’re sick of the boring speeches from the members of Unidas Podemos. Cut the hyperbole and let’s talk solutions; it’s the mature and serious thing to do,’ said Socialist politician Andrea Fernandez in response. The first major rupture between Spain’s two coalition partners comes on the eve of International Women’s Day, which has historically been an important day for Spain’s self-denominated ‘feminist government.’

Source: Anadolu Agency