The current Spanish Government has promoted the adoption of a number of equality and non-discrimination laws. The latest two, approved this summer are the New Spanish Comprehensive anti-discrimination law and the Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Law (also known as “Only yes means yes” law).
After a long legislative process, the Comprehensive Law for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination has been approved in Spain.
This law includes new grounds of discrimination (such as birth, race or ethnic origin, sex, religion or belief, age, disability, sexual orientation or identity, gender expression, illness and health status, serological situation, genetic features, language, socioeconomic status or any other condition or personal situation) without defining any of the concepts; and new fields (including, notably AI, sports and culture, advertisement, or school segregation). The law also introduces multiple and intersectional discrimination, discrimination by association and by mistake, non-compliance with positive action measures derived from normative or conventional obligations, or denial of reasonable accommodation measures as well as retaliation as forms of discrimination.
Preventive work, mainstreaming duties and a comprehensive sanction regime have been included in the law. Likewise, this piece of legislation foresees the creation of a new Equality Body (the Independent Authority for Equal Treatment and Non-Discrimination) that would have an enhanced mandate and will become the new Spanish Equality Body in relation to the RED (Racial Equality Directive).
The Congress has approved this piece of legislation (the Senate needs to still ratify it and therefore it may still suffer minor modifications) around consent. Its full name is Comprehensive Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Law, although it is better known as the “only yes means yes” law.
The current Spanish government, openly declared feminist, began drafting the law given the legal limitations found in the Criminal Code, including the definition of sexual abuse and sexual assault. The differentiation in these definitions was the origin of this rule, following the sentence for the case of La Manada. The case considered the gang rape of a young woman during the 2016 San Fermin fiestas in Pamplona/Iruñea to be an abuse and unleashed a wave of citizen demonstrations.
This new law abolishes the distinction between sexual assault and abuse and makes express consent the key to judging sexual crimes: “It will only be understood that there is consent when it has been freely expressed through acts that, in view of the circumstances of the case, clearly express the will of the person”, states the legal text.
The law also addresses vicarious violence by recognizing the right of mothers of minors murdered by their partners or ex-partners to receive aid and shields the financing of the measures contemplated in the State Pact against gender violence. In addition, aggression, street harassment, sexual exploitation, corruption of minors, female genital mutilation, or unauthorized pornography will be considered sexual violence.
The law considers chemical submission an aggravating circumstance for cases in which the aggressor has used methods to annul the will of the victim. The public education system will also include mandatory content on sex education and gender equality at all educational stages.
Finally, the new law provides for the creation of at least 50 24-hour crisis centres centers – one for each province. These centres will provide psychological, legal, and social support for victims.