Contrary to the clichés of a country firmly clinging to its Catholic and conservative values in terms of morals, Spain adopted, sometimes much earlier than its neighbors, laws on same-sex marriage as early as 2005 and on euthanasia. in 2021. Last week, a law allowing abortion for adolescents over the age of 16, without family authorization, was passed.
Spain also recently became the first country in Europe to offer menstrual leave for women with very painful periods. Added to all this is a transgender law that will allow minors under the age of 16 to change their identity by a simple formality.
“The average Spaniard is more progressive than conservative”
These latest laws, proposed by a socialist government allied with the left-wing radicals of Podemos, have given rise to virtually no demonstrations of protest, as if the country is on track with the government’s timetable. The most lively controversies have arisen above all between feminists, with sometimes fierce debates. On menstrual leave, some concerns emerged among socialists and trade unionists about a possible stigmatization of women.
We are a long way from the major demonstrations that took place before the adoption of the law on same-sex marriage in 2005, where Catholic associations, the episcopal conference and part of the right-wing opposition were heard. “The average Spaniard is more progressive than conservative,” says Ignacio Urquizu, professor of sociology and socialist mayor of Alcañiz, we are more tolerant on moral and ethical issues. »
In 2019, the sociologist Belén Barreiro assured in the daily El Mundo that “the Spaniards are more social democrats than elsewhere on questions of redistribution or support for the welfare state. Even among the most conservative right-wing voters, there is a tradition of solidarity, probably due to Catholic values. Support for same-sex marriage is cross-cutting because we place our lifestyle above prejudice. »
In Scotland, a strong mobilization of pros and cons
Spain is not the only country in Europe to have “liberalised” the law on gender reassignment. After Denmark, Malta, Sweden, Ireland and Norway, Portugal became in 2018 “the sixth country in Europe to grant the right to self-determination of the identity of transgender people (…) from the age of 16, without the guardianship of a third party and without a diagnosis of identity disturbance, welcomed at the time the deputy Sandra Cunha, of the Left Bloc (extreme left). “No one needs a third party to know if he is a man or a woman, a boy or a girl,” she argued during the parliamentary debate preceding the vote.
It is not the same across the Channel. In Scotland, the law on “gender recognition reform” also aimed to speed up the process by lowering the legal age for initiating proceedings from 18 to 16, no longer requiring medical advice to obtain a gender recognition certificate and change their marital status. It would have sufficed to have lived three months (rather than two years) in his “acquired” gender.
Adopted in the Holyrood parliament last December by 86 votes to 39, this bill was blocked by the British Supreme Court, an extremely rare decision which apparently contributed to the resignation of Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The bill had previously generated much debate, and a strong mobilization of its supporters and its detractors. Because the subject divides public opinion well beyond political affiliations. The debate has marked political life to such an extent that the candidates for the succession of Nicola Sturgeon must now position themselves on this sensitive issue.
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