Spanish Bill that threatens fundamental freedoms advances

September 25, 2017

  Roxana Stanciu

Minors will be able to have sex reassignment surgery without the consent of their parents. Homosexuals and transsexuals would be prohibited from reverting to their biological sex. And a political body would be in charge of promoting gender ideology in many areas, including education, health, media, sports, and the workplace. This will all become reality if the Equality Bill in Spain is adopted. 

Spain’s Equality Bill continues to advance in parliament after a first round of debate, which took place in the Congress of Deputies on Tuesday, 19 September. The proposed piece of legislation has been supported by all political parties, except the Popular Party, which has abstained.

EDW has analysed some of the implications that the law could have in a recent article. But there are still some other very problematic areas that we now would like to point out.


What does science say about transgender children?

Article 20 of the Equality Bill states that “[t]ranssexuals and transgenders above 16-years-old, will be able to provide their informed consent on their own, in order to access to surgical sexual reassignment. From the moment of puberty they will be allowed to give their informed consent to access to hormonal blockers and hormonal crossed treatment.”

But the proposed legislation completely disregards the recommendations of medical professionals and the findings of science.  Studies show that the vast majority of children and young adolescents who had any doubts as to the perception of their identity at some time during their development, on completing adolescence, invariably chose their biological sex.

In fact, a study concluded by two of the world’s most respected psychiatrists warns parents and officials not to impose life-changing surgery or aggressive hormone treatment on children. According to the study’s authors, Dr. Paul Mc Hugh and Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, “there is no evidence at all that children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behaviour should be encouraged to become transgender”. The scientists reviewed hundreds of studies on sexuality and gender from the fields of biology, psychology, and the social sciences. They reviewed the research in areas such as embryology, endocrinology, epidemiology, genetics, neuroscience, psychiatry, and paediatrics, and concluded that the science does not support the claims popularly believed about homosexuality and transgenderism. Interestingly, the authors also found that the scientific literature shows that up to 80% of males who reported same-sex attractions as adolescents “no longer do so as adults.”


Minors would be able to choose sex reassignment without parental consent

The Equality Bill also would dramatically undermine parental rights. Under the Bill, parents would not be able to oppose their child’s decision to undergo hormonal treatment or have sex reassignment surgery. Children would thus be allowed to make life-impacting decisions, with extremely serious consequences, without any involvement from their parents’ side. According to the Bill, a child who decides to identify as transgender does not then need any psychological notice to undergo sexual reassignment. Moreover, the hormonal treatment or surgery could be financed with public funds.

But how can a child make such a major decision, without being more informed, without consulting others, without at least conferring with their parents? According to ADF International, “[b]y making no reference to the rights of parents, the Equality Bill stands in stark contrast to the well-established international legal norms which see parents as primarily responsible for raising their children.”

The European Convention on Human Rights also protects the rights of parents. In the context of the education and teaching of children, its Article 2 states: “In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State  shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”


Homosexuals and transsexuals would be prohibited from reverting to their
biological sex

Another effect that the Equality Bill would have is thwarting efforts to re-align one’s gender identity with one’s biological sex. According to the Bill, any “[t]herapies intending to reverse the sexual orientation, or the gender identity of a person are prohibited, even when the interested individual, or their legal representative have given consent.”  Moreover, the Bill establishes severe penalties for professionals who assist such a person.

Even more, “[h]ealth professionals will follow up with the person in the development of their felt identity. Any test, exploration or psychological test in order to determine the condition of the person that is transsexual, transgender or any medical practice that will limit or restrict this freedom will be vetoed.”


A state agency for LGBTI rights

One of the more controversial aspects of the Equality Bill is that it would also oversee the creation of a state agency for LGBTI rights. This would be a political body that would be in charge of promoting gender ideology across a broad range of areas, including education, health, media, sports, leisure, and the workplace. It supposedly would “fight against any discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sexual characteristics.” It would be directly funded from the state budget but would act “independently of the public administration in the exercise of its functions”.

Such a state agency for LGBTI rights would also ensure that gender ideology is promoted in schools and universities, and would make its inclusion in the curricula compulsory. The Equality Bill specifically stipulates that gender ideology shall be included in “all subjects and levels”, and specifies that efforts are to be made to  ensure “the adoption of exercises and examples that include sexual and gender diversity, as well as family diversity”. Moreover, the Bill would require that all teachers be trained in order to develop new educational plans that are based on respect for sexual and gender diversity. In addition, in the selection and hiring of teachers, the Bill states that “[a]ttention to sexual, gender and family diversity will be evaluated in the examinations to access teaching bodies.”


Are these the kind of changes that we want to see in our societies?

The Equality Bill seeks to do many things; but its overall impact on the education and development of young people in Spain is extremely concerning. However, one thing is certain: the proposed measures will not ensure equality and freedom for all Spanish citizens. When we consider all of the above points, as well as the analysis presented in our previous article on the topic, we can conclude that the proposed legislation threatens the democratic liberties of broad segments of Spanish society.

We should be clear that the passing of the Bill will not just affect Spain but could have ramifications for all of Europe. As one of the supporters of the Equality Bill said during the recent debate in Congress: “it is not just for Spain, but for the whole world. … if approved, it will lead to international changes.” But are these really the kind of changes we want to see in our societies?