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Report: Spain & Portugal

2023-01-31
Time to read: 10 min

Spain deepens gender laws, decriminalises sedition and embezzlement     

In Spain, the social-communist government has begun a race to pass increasingly radical laws, pushed by the communists of Podemos, less than a year before the general elections. According to most polls, except those dependent on the government, the Socialists would lose the elections to the Partido Popular and VOX, which would represent an important change of course, especially if we take as an example the government of Castilla y León where both parties already govern together. However, the toughest opposition against the social-communist government is being led by VOX. Santiago Abascal’s party has announced a motion of censure against Pedro Sánchez, a motion that it is unclear whether it will be supported by the Popular Party. Its president, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has assured that the PP will abstain, although it will not vote against as it did in the previous motion in October 2020.

Among the most controversial laws passed during December was the “Trans law”. The new law, another of the star measures of the Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, allows the change of sex in the civil registry without the need to present medical or psychological reports, i.e., the will of the interested person is sufficient. With regard to minors, those over the age of 16 will not need parental authorisation to change their sex, despite not having reached the age of majority. On the other hand, minors between the ages of 14 and 16 must have the authorisation of their parents or guardians, while those between the ages of 12 and 13 will require judicial authorisation. However, the law provides that in cases where there is a disagreement between the parents and the minor, “the best interests of the minor” will be taken into account, and the minor will be assigned a legal guardian. For minors under 12 years of age, the possibilities are also extended: they will not be able to change their sex in the registry, but they will be able to change their name on their ID card. In addition, according to the law, they will have to be treated according to the sex they identify themselves with in schools if they so request. Despite the controversy that the law has raised, the truth is that it is very similar to the laws applied by autonomous communities. In Madrid, Andalusia, and Murcia, governed by the Popular Party, laws that recognise gender self-determination are already in force. Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Community of Madrid and whom many consider to be a representative of the true Right, has criticised the Trans law but forgets that in Madrid, the 2016 law on Gender Identity and Expression and Social Equality and Non-Discrimination is in force, a law that she herself voted in favour of. According to this law, there is no need for “psychiatric or psychological tests or medical treatment to make use of their right to gender identity or to access services or documentation in accordance with their felt gender identity”. With regard to minors, it also speaks of the “best interests of the minor” in the face of parental refusal and also of recourse to the courts.

Another radical law that has begun to have consequences is the Organic Law for the Integral Guarantee of Sexual Freedom, better known as the “only yes is yes” law. Passed in August in an extraordinary session of Congress, this new feminist law was intended to do away with the distinction between sexual assault and sexual abuse to further protect women. The reality is that the law, which came into force on 7 October, has served, by being applied retroactively, to reduce the sentences of convicted aggressors and rapists. At the end of the year, a total of 133 convicted offenders have had their sentences reduced and 17 people have been released from prison. Faced with this new success of radical feminism, the response of Podemos’ leaders has been to accuse judges of misapplying the law because of machismo. Similarly, the number of women killed by “gender violence” has not decreased compared to previous years (49 in 2022, 48 in 2021, 49 in 2020), which raises the question of the effectiveness of the Ministry of Equality that next year will have a budget of 573 million Euros, 9% more, 47 million Euros, than those approved for 2022.

On 15 December, the parliament approved a further step in the abortion law that will have to be ratified by the Senate and allow minors aged 16 and 17 to have an abortion without parental consent. The text eliminates the obligation to inform women who request this practice and the three days of reflection and includes measures to guarantee that this practice is carried out in public health centres. To avoid impediments, a list of professionals who are conscientious objectors will be created, as was done with euthanasia. It also includes the free distribution of the morning-after pill, specific leave from work for women who have excruciating and incapacitating periods, the obligation to provide sex education at all educational stages and the prohibition of subsidies to organisations “opposed to the right” to abortion. Pro-life organisations are once again being harassed by the government, which has made it a crime to pray in front of abortion clinics. If this law is passed in the Senate, a 16-year-old girl will need her parents’ permission to go on a school trip but not to have an abortion.

Sedition and malversation

In another decision that can only be described as scandalous, the Senate approved the reform of the Penal Code, a reform that repeals the crime of sedition and reduces the penalties for malversation. The first to benefit from this reform, which will come into force on 12 January, are the Catalan pro-independence leaders convicted of the illegal referendum of 1 October and separating Catalonia from the rest of Spain. The measure appears to be a payback to the Catalan pro-independence ERC, who, like the Basque pro-independence supporters, are one of the backers of Pedro Sánchez’s government. Faced with criticism of this decision, the Socialists have assured that their only objective is to “promote dialogue, union and coexistence” and that there would be no new referendum on self-determination. Despite these promises, a few days later, the President of the Catalan Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, said in his Christmas message that “2023 has to be the year to give shape to the Catalan proposal for a clear agreement” for a referendum on Catalan independence. For the ERC politician, the Catalan parties must agree on when they will be able to “exercise the right to decide again” and “under what conditions they have to vote again”. Eliminating the crime does not make the criminal disappear, and the problem with separatism can only get worse in the future. With regard to malversation, the crime is reduced when there is no profit motive or personal enrichment, going from the 8 years in prison that the current Penal Code stipulates to only 4. Once again, the biggest beneficiaries are the Catalan pro-independence leaders.

The assault on the judiciary

The lack of renewal of the Constitutional Court, in conservative hands, i.e. with a majority of judges proposed by the Popular Party, led the government to prepare a law to change the criteria for electing members of this body and the General Council of the Judiciary, thus annulling the independence of the judiciary and making it more dependent on the executive. The law was stopped by the Constitutional Court in its parliamentary procedure at the request of the Popular Party and VOX. This unleashed an unprecedented institutional crisis with accusations of a coup d’état against the judges. However, after all this crisis, the Constitutional Court unexpectedly completed its renewal with two progressive magistrates chosen by the government and another two selected by the General Council of the Judiciary, one conservative and one progressive. Thus, the Constitutional Court is now in the hands of the Left, which is precisely what the government wanted.

Portugal: Instability, corruption, and euthanasia

In Portugal, instability and corruption remain the Achilles’ heel of Antonio Costa’s socialist government. The executive suffered its latest casualty on 29 December with the resignation of the Minister of Infrastructure, Pedro Nuno Santos, caused by the TAP scandal and the payment of half a million Euros to his former executive director Alexandra Reis, who was subsequently elected Secretary of State for the Treasury, a post from which she was dismissed on 28 December. The minister decided to take political responsibility and resign in the face of public perception and collective sentiment generated around the case, and her resignation was accepted by the prime minister. A few hours earlier, the TAP case led to the resignation of the Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Hugo Santos Mendes.

But these were not the only high-level dismissals in the Portuguese government. Also, in a corruption case, on 10 November, the prime minister’s Undersecretary of State, Miguel Alves, resigned after being accused by the public prosecutor’s office of prevarication. Alves allegedly did favours for companies belonging to Manuela Couto, wife of former socialist mayor Joaquim Couto, between 2015 and 2016 while he was mayor of Caminha. Meanwhile, since May, the Secretary of State for the Economy, João Neves, and the Secretary of State for Tourism, Trade and Services, Rita Marques, have been dismissed for “disagreements” with government policy. The Secretary of State for Equality and Migration, Sara Abrantes Guerreiro, resigned for health reasons a month after taking office, followed by the Setubal controversy, where a pro-Russian association, closely linked to the city’s communist government, was in charge of taking in Ukrainian refugees. Finally, the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, the Undersecretary of State for Health, António Lacerda Sales, and the Undersecretary of State for Health, Fátima Fonseca, resigned following the scandal caused by the death of a pregnant woman in a hospital emergency room. Ten senior officials in just 7 months.

Another controversial issue has been the passing, for the third time, of euthanasia law in parliament. The law was voted by the Socialist Party, which governs alone with an absolute majority, with the support of the Liberal Initiative, the Bloco de Esquerda, PAN (Animal Rights) and Livre (Greens). The Communists, Chega and the PSD (liberal right) voted against it. The weight of opposition to the euthanasia law came from Chega’s conservatives, who tried unsuccessfully to call a referendum. Six PSD MPs voted in favour of the law, and curiously, six socialists voted against it. However, for the law to become a reality, it needs the approval of the President of the Republic, the “conservative” Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The President, who has the power to veto the law or consult the Constitutional Court, has already rejected the two previous attempts.

In the media world, it is worth noting the launch on 16 November in Lisbon of the self-styled “Consortium - Network of Investigative Journalists”, a non-governmental association, although supported by the Ministry of Culture. The members of this Consortium of “independent journalists” have a long history of political activism linked to the Left and far Left and have received substantial donations from the Open Society Foundations. In fact, George Soros’ OSF is a key player in the financing of the various media outlets that make up the “Consortium”, along with organisations linked to the extreme left and the Portuguese state. Therefore, as was to be expected, the Consortium’s target is none other than the Chega party, and its first report dealt with the presence of hate speech in the Portuguese State Security Forces and, of course, the relationship between this hate speech and Chega. As has also been the case with most of the so-called verifiers, the “Consortium” is not “independent journalism” but the sum of extreme left-wing political activists at the service of the globalist organisations that generously fund them.

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