Independent UN experts laud Spain for enacting new feminist laws

© Unsplash/Mari Vlassi. Women activists march in Madrid, Spain (file).

United Nations, 21 February 2023

Independent UN experts on Tuesday welcomed Spain’s adoption of new comprehensive anti-discrimination and feminist legislation. 

Describing the new laws as a “fundamental feminist achievement”, they said the move was part of an ambitious agenda for social progress. The legislation guarantees and facilitates access to sexual and reproductive rights in the country. 

New menstrual leave, abortion laws 

The new overarching measures ensure safe and accessible abortions provided by national health agencies. They also eliminate “reflection processes” arbitrarily imposed on women, and ensure access of all – including lesbian, bisexual and unmarried women – to assisted reproduction techniques. 

In adopting the package of laws, Spain became the first European country to introduce menstrual leave. The legislation also makes comprehensive sexual education a part of all mandatory years of schooling. 

Upholds anti-discrimination measures 

The related sexual and reproductive rights measures were enacted alongside comprehensive legislation addressing violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics. Together, they aim at promoting social inclusion in the health, employment, education, cultural, and business sectors. 

Elements include the provision of equal parenthood rights for lesbian mothers, a ban on genital mutilation for intersex children, and measures to end so-called “conversion therapy” perpetrated against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGTBI) persons. 

‘Story of persistence’ 

The regulations were adopted through a thoughtful and participatory parliamentary process that took six years, and which considered UN expert advice, they said. 

“The history of feminism is a story of persistence in the face of social injustice,” the experts said. 

They cautioned countries to guard against the populist allure that regressive forces may find in exploiting anti-abortion, anti-education and anti-trans discourse. As an example of this, they pointed to attempts to erase the inherent ties between the struggle against violence and discrimination faced by all women and girls, and gay, bisexual, and trans men, as well as other gender-diverse and intersex persons. 

Saluting survivors 

Saluting the role survivors of violence and civil society played throughout the process, they said “every time we observe the adoption of a law, public policy or jurisprudence that promotes equality, we are immediately reminded of the work of human rights defenders, survivors, and activists,” they said. 

“They were the ones who provided their stories, compiled the evidence, and carried out the work of advocacy and persuasion so that Spanish authorities could fully embrace the idea that these legislative measures are key elements to ensure that every person can live free and equal in dignity and rights,” they said. 

About UN experts

The experts are part of the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system. 

They are appointed by the Council to monitor and report on specific issues or country situations.

They are not UN staff and are not paid for their work.

The original article appeared here.

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