How Spain became the European capital of woke

Pedro Sánchez’s government has been a catastrophe for free speech and women’s rights.

Maria Reglero

Topics Identity Politics World

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Woke ideology has broken free from the Anglosphere and found its way into Spanish politics.

Ordinary Spanish citizens are facing numerous challenges at the moment, with a cost-of-living crisis, high rates of unemployment and rising tensions over corruption and migration. In many ways, Spain is struggling to preserve the ‘glue’ that usually holds society together. This has provided fertile ground for woke dogma to further divide Spanish politics.

At the head of Spain’s identitarian crusade is prime minister Pedro Sánchez and his weak ‘progressive’ coalition. Last month, he returned from an unprecedented five-day break from his duties, after his wife was accused of corruption. His absence sparked speculation that he would resign, but at the end of April, he was back with a vengeance.

Almost immediately, Sánchez hinted at a coming crackdown on oppositional media, which he blamed for shining a spotlight on his wife’s behaviour. His government plans to target news sites that spread so-called misinformation and to strengthen regulations around the public funding of media. Countless journalists have warned that these regulations will severely restrict media freedom and would function as a way to silence criticism of the government – especially its hated woke policies.

The public has good reason to loathe the government’s identitarian agenda. Time and again, woke policies have been pushed through without any regard for their terrible implications. In 2022, equality minister Irene Montero championed Spain’s disastrous ‘Yes Means Yes’ law, which criminalised any sex where consent could not be proven. At the same time, this reform also abolished the lesser charge of sexual abuse and classified all sexual violations, from harassment to rape, as sexual assault. It also cut the minimum and maximum jail sentences for anyone who commits sexual assault.

The government’s intention was to toughen punishments for certain sexual crimes – and to make it easier to convict people for them. But in Spain, sentences can be retroactively altered if changes to the penal code benefit the offender. As a result, Spain’s Yes Means Yes law quickly led to reduced sentences for more than 1,000 sex offenders and early releases for at least 100. Sánchez has since apologised for the law and has closed the loophole that allowed sex offenders to walk free.

In the immediate aftermath, however, Montero refused to take any responsibility for the damage caused by her reforms. She and her team constantly portrayed themselves as the real victims. They even tried to place all the blame on judges, who they accused of systemic sexism, even though they were simply implementing the law.

Montero has a lot to answer for. She was also responsible for pushing Spain’s gender self-identification law through parliament last year, which allows anyone over the age of 16 to change their legal sex. Children aged 14 to 16 require permission from a legal guardian, while those aged 12 to 14 are also allowed to do so with the approval of a judge.

Most disturbing of all, the legislation forces children who are struggling with their gender to receive only ‘gender-affirming care’. Anyone who offers dissenting views on gender identity, from parents to psychologists, can be accused of ‘trans conversion therapy’ and face fines of up to €150,000. Widespread criticism of the law from feminists, parents and even one of Sánchez’s former deputy prime ministers has been ignored by the government.

Unlike the Yes Means Yes law, the various loopholes the self-ID law has created remain wide open. In 2023, the number of legal sex changes quadrupled compared with the previous year – the vast majority (61.5 per cent) being male-to-female transitions. The reasons for this are obvious. On social media, increasing numbers of men have expressed their desire to change gender for practical benefits, such as gaining child custody or avoiding criminal charges of gender-based violence. Some men in the Spanish military and police have even changed their legal sex to benefit from higher wages and better pensions.

The good news is that the women’s movement in Spain is fierce and has managed to push the gender debate into the mainstream. But ordinary Spanish citizens shouldn’t have to worry about the minutiae of this self-ID law or have to fear rapists being prematurely released back on to the streets. The vast majority would rather their government focussed on building the nation’s prosperity instead of pursuing fashionable and damaging identitarian causes.

The Sánchez government has failed Spaniards spectacularly. Its woke crusade proves that nowhere in Europe is safe from the insanity of identity politics.

Maria Reglero is a consultant on women’s rights based in Barcelona.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics World


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