Spain is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. The population of around 46 million people enjoy constitutional guarantees of secularism, though in practice there are extant religious privileges, in particular for the Catholic Church. According to a recent survey, two in three state that they are Catholic, however only 22.7% are practising, a further 29% of the population identify as atheist, agnostic or as a non-believer.1https://www.eldiario.es/sociedad/espana-catolica-creyentes-catolicos-practicantes_1_1411835.html
|Constitution and government||Education and children’s rights||Family, community, society, religious courts and tribunals||Freedom of expression advocacy of humanist values|
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Congo, Republic of the, Djibouti, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Honduras, Iceland, India, Japan, Korea, Republic of, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa, Sweden, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Congo, Republic of the, Dominica, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Republic of, Kosovo, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sweden, Taiwan, Uruguay, Venezuela
Countries: Austria, Bhutan, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Lithuania, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam
Countries: no countries relate to this boundary condition
Countries: no countries relate to this boundary condition
This condition is unusual in that it is applied in cases where there is some social discrimination, but it is not pervasive or nationwide. This condition is applied when there is sufficient background evidence to warrant the assertion that discrimination is not anomalous but widespread, and this condition may be applied for example even where if there is no legislative discrimination or where the non-religious may have legal recourse against such discrimination. However, societal discrimination (i.e. discrimination by peers, as opposed to state or legal discrimination) is not easily measured, and for this reason the Report does not currently have similar more severe boundary conditions to capture higher levels of social discrimination per se. In principle these may be introduced in future. However, we consider that countries with actual higher levels of social discrimination against the non-religious will generally already meet other higher level (more severe) boundary conditions under this thematic strand.
Applied when overriding acts of oppression by the State are extreme, to the extent that the question of freedom of thought and expression is almost redundant, because all human rights and freedoms are quashed by authorities.
Countries: North Korea
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bahrain, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Brunei Darussalam, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kosovo, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Italy, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela
Countries: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Armenia, Benin, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Republic of the, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Turkey, Uganda
Countries: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Korea, Republic of, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Vanuatu
This condition is applied where there are miscellaneous indicators that organs of the state offer various forms of support for a religion, or to religion in general over non-religious worldviews, suggesting a preference for those beliefs, or that the organs of that religion are privileged.
Countries: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belize, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
Countries: Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kiribati, Korea, Republic of, Laos, Latvia, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vanuatu, Zimbabwe
This condition highlights countries where schools subject children to fundamentalist religious instruction with no real opportunity to question fundamentalist tenets, or where lessons routinely encourage hatred (for example religious or ethnic hatred). The wording “significant number of schools” is not given a rigid quantification (sometimes the worst-offending schools are unregistered, illegal, or otherwise uncounted); however the condition is not applied in cases where only a small number of schools meet the description and may be anomalous, as opposed to being indicative of a widespread problem.
Countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gambia, Guyana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Paraguay, Qatar, Russia, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Countries: Angola, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Congo, Republic of the, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Nepal, North Korea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Finland, Georgia, Haiti, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Tunisia, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Yemen, Zambia
Countries: Argentina, Armenia, Belize, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, China, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Samoa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kiribati, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Tonga, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Cyprus, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Denmark, Eritrea, Germany, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom
Countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
This condition may apply if specifically religious education, religious materials, or specific religious denominations are so tightly controlled that children are in fact over-protected from exposure to religion and are likely unable to explore or construct their own worldview in accordance with their evolving capacities. This condition helps us to classify states (perhaps with secular constitutions) which have criminalized specifically religious beliefs or practices. This condition is not applied if the restricted beliefs or practices are found to be outlawed due to their being of an extremist variety. While this condition does not directly reflect discrimination against non-religious persons or non-religious ideas, it does represent an overall threat to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief; such restrictions could spill over to affect non-religious beliefs later; and they pose a risk of backlash against over-zealous secular authorities or even against non-religious individuals by association.
Countries: Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chad, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Korea, Republic of, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Montenegro, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Yemen, Zimbabwe
Section 16 of the Constitution2http://www.congreso.es/portal/page/portal/Congreso/Congreso/Hist_Normas/Norm/const_espa_texto_ingles_0.pdf guarantees “freedom of ideology, religion and worship” to individuals and communities with no restrictions other than those necessary for the protection of public order. It goes on to state:
“No religion shall have a state character. The public authorities shall take into account the religious beliefs of Spanish society and shall consequently maintain appropriate cooperation relations with the Catholic Church and other confessions.”
Subsequent sections of the Constitution provide guarantees for the rights to freedom of expression, conscience, assembly and association. Further laws, further regulate the right to freedom of religion or belief.3https://www.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellite/Portal/es/areas-tematicas/libertad-religiosa/normativa-materia-libertad/legislacion-estatal Specifically, the Organic Law on Religious Freedom (Ley Orgánica 7/1980, de 5 de julio, de Libertad Religiosa)4https://www.boe.es/buscar/doc.php?id=BOE-A-1980-15955 specifies that freedom of religion includes the right to freely express one’s belief or lack thereof. However, Article 3(2) of the same law states:
“The activities, purposes and entities related to the study and experience of psychic or parapsychological phenomena, or the dissemination of spiritual or humanistic values or other analogous purposes unrelated to religious ones are outside the scope of protection of this Law” (“Quedan fuera del ámbito de protección de la presente Ley las actividades, finalidades y Entidades relacionadas con el estudio y experimentación de los fenómenos psíquicos o parapsicológicos o la difusión de valores humanísticos o espiritualistas u otros fines análogos ajenos a los religiosos.”)
Belief groups are required to register with the authorities in order to be recognized and conferred the associated benefits. Groups registered in the Ministry of Justice’s Registry of Religious Entities may buy, rent, and sell property, and may act as a legal entity in civil proceedings.
To date, the state has cooperation agreements with the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities (Federación de Entidades Religiosas Evangélicas de España – FEREDE), the Islamic Commission of Spain (Comisión Islámica de España – CIE), and Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain (Federación de Comunidades Judías de España – FCJE), in addition to a Concordat with the Holy See. Groups with cooperation agreements are also eligible for independently administered government grants
These rights are generally respected in practice, although the Roman Catholic Church continues to receive some privileges that are not available to other religions or groups.
The government has a bilateral agreement with the Holy See5https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/archivio/documents/rc_seg-st_19790103_santa-sede-spagna_sp.html that grants the Catholic Church additional benefits not available to three other groups with which the government has agreements: Protestants, Muslims, and Jews. Groups without agreements may register with the government and receive some benefits.6https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-report-on-international-religious-freedom/spain/
Federal tax law, however, provides taxpayers the option of allocating up to 0.7 percent of their income tax to the Catholic Church or to a nongovernmental organization (NGO), but not to other religious groups. According to Spanish newspaper El País, one third of the population chooses to allocate a portion of the tax to the Church, garnering it more than 284 million euros in the past year.7https://elpais.com/sociedad/2020/02/20/actualidad/1582200178_409607.html
Section 27 of the Constitution enshrines the right to education with the purpose of “the full development of human personality with due respect for the democratic principles of coexistence and for basic rights and freedoms.” Guaranteeing “the right of parents to ensure that their children receive religious and moral instruction in accordance with their own convictions.”
A concordat with the Holy See specifically addresses education, stating “the education given in public educational centers will be respectful of the values of Christian ethics.”8https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/archivio/documents/rc_seg-st_19790103_santa-sede-spagna_sp.html It also grants the Holy See oversight over those permitted to teach classes on Roman Catholicism, as well as textbooks and the curriculum.
The government funds teachers for Catholic, Islamic, Protestant, and Judaic instruction in public schools when at least 10 students request it. The courses are not mandatory. Those students who elect not to take religious education courses are required to take an alternative course covering general social, cultural, and religious themes. Either the national Ministry of Education or the regional entity responsible for education certifies teachers’ credentials. However, religious groups are responsible for selecting teachers for their particular religion.
Spain’s system of regional autonomy grants significant powers of self-governance to the country’s traditional national minorities, including Catalans and Basques.9https://freedomhouse.org/country/spain/freedom-world/2020
Personal social freedoms are generally respected. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005, and same-sex couples may adopt children.
While there are legal protections against domestic abuse and rape, including spousal rape, both remain significant problems in practise.10https://www.es.amnesty.org/en-que-estamos/espana/violencia-contra-las-mujeres/ Since 2003, at least 1,051 women have been murdered by their partners.11https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/28/three-women-killed-in-spain-as-coronavirus-lockdown-sees-rise-in-domestic-violence
In 2018, five men were acquitted of rape and convicted on a lesser charge of sexual abuse in a high-profile 2016 case in Pamplona, but in June 2019 the Supreme Court found the men guilty of rape and sentenced them to 15 years in prison.12https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/21/world/europe/spain-wolf-pack-pamplona-rape.html The case fuelled calls to change the law so that specific evidence of physical violence or intimidation accompanying a sexual assault would not be needed to secure a rape conviction.
The expression of humanist or secular values is generally respected.
There are some concerns that the Law on Public Safety (2015) places some undue limits on freedom of expression and association on “public order” grounds. Under the law all protests must be registered with a local authority and protesters are forbidden from demonstrating near government buildings. Disseminating unauthorized images of law enforcement can also carry a penalty of up to €30,000.13freedomhouse.org/blog/worrying-setback-freedom-expression-spain
Defamation (known as ‘calumny’ or ‘injury’) is punishable by up to two years in prison under Articles 205-216 of the Penal Code.14https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-1995-25444 The laws have been used to intimidate journalists reporting on allegations of government corruption.15https://ifex.org/spanish-officials-are-filing-criminal-defamation-charges-to-intimidate-journalists/ Further articles of the Penal Code criminalise defamation of the Monarch and their descendants, the State and its symbols.16http://legaldb.freemedia.at/legal-database/spain/
While Spain has a free press that covers a wide range of perspectives and actively investigates high-level corruption, consolidation of private ownership and political interference at public outlets are said to pose threats to media independence.17https://freedomhouse.org/country/spain/freedom-world/2020 Political instability and the rise of the far-right in politics has led to a growth in attacks on the media. Political parties like VOX target the media, with its supporters stirring up hate against journalists on social media and physically harassing them on the ground.18https://rsf.org/en/spain
According to Reporters Without Borders:
“Investigative journalists have been subjected to judicial harassment, with several being accused of violating the confidentiality of a judicial investigation and others being the targets of raids and searches. Even if most cases are eventually dropped, there is a growing tendency on the part of the judicial authorities and the police to override the protection of journalists’ sources and to obstruct investigative journalism.”
Musicians, particularly rappers, are reported to regularly face accusations of “glorifying terrorism” or “insulting the crown”. According to Freemuse, at least 13 rappers have been convicted and imprisoned on such charges since 2017.19https://pen-international.org/app/uploads/JointSubmissionSpainUPR.pdf
Articles 522-526 of the Spanish Penal Code20https://www.mjusticia.gob.es/cs/Satellite/Portal/1292430713449?blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Grupo&blobheadervalue1=attachment%3B+filename%3DLey_Organica_10_1995__de_23_de_Noviembre__del_Codigo_Penal__modificada_por_la_Ley_Organica_1_2015__.PDF&blobheadervalue2=Docs_Legislacion+estatal define crimes against “freedom of conscience, religious feelings and respect for the dead.” Specifically, Article 255 acts as a de facto ‘blasphemy’ law and is sometimes enforced. Article 525 of the Spanish Penal Code reads:
“1. Those that, in order to offend the feelings of members of a religious confession, make public derision, orally, by writing or through any type of document, of their dogmas, beliefs, rituals or ceremonies or mistreat, also publicly, those who practice that religion, will be punished with a fine between eight to twelve month of their salary.
2. Those that make public derision, orally or by writing, of people who do not confess any religion will incur in the penalties set in the previous paragraph.”
There have been a number of prosecutions under this law in the last several years. Most of these cases have been brought by the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers and by a Catholic legal association, the Tomás Moro Legal Center (see “Highlighted cases” below).
Europa Laica, an organization that promotes pluralism and freedom of conscience, campaigns against Article 525 and has initiated a petition for its derogation.21peticionpublica.es/Default.aspx?pi=P2010N4138
Freedom of assembly is guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, which states:
Spanish law requires prior notification in order for a public demonstration to be considered legal. Those who fail to comply with this requirement face fines.
In October 2019, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear a complaint lodged by the Association of Christian Lawyers against an artist whose 2015 photography exhibition featured the word “pederasty,” formed by consecrated communion wafers. The Association of Christian Lawyers filed a lawsuit against the artist, alleging he committed an “offense against religious sentiments and desecration.” A regional court in Pamplona had previously declined to hear the case, and the country’s Constitutional Court declared it to be inadmissible.22https://www.state.gov/reports/2019-report-on-international-religious-freedom/spain/
Three women, Rocío Ballesta, Antonia Ávalos and a third woman who has chosen anonymity, were dragged through five years of criminal proceedings following a peaceful march in 2014, on charges of “crimes against religious sentiment”, before the case was finally thrown out in October 2019. The case dated back to 2014 when the accused carried a large latex model of a human vulva during a general worker’s union march. The model, named the coño insumiso (rebellious pussy) was a parody of the effigies of saints and the Virgin Mary, which are still carried during religious parades in Spain. The three women said they were marching on behalf of the “Guild of the Sacred Rebellious Pussy and the Sacred Burial of Social and Workers’ Rights” in order “to draw attention to their belief that the church’s teaching denied women fundamental rights at a time when the government was planning to introduce a restrictive abortion law.”
The case was first dropped in 2016 because the court found that the defendants were entitled to the freedom of expression represented by “publicly proclaiming that you don’t follow a religious faith”. However, the Association of Christian Lawyers then brought a civil action for “crimes against religious sentiment” and “mocking Catholic symbols and dogma”. During the second trial, defendant Ávalos said, “We feel that we are being persecuted and criminalised for defending women’s sexual and reproductive rights”. Campaigners condemned the new trial as an attack on free expression. Finally dismissing the case on 11 October 2019, the judge said the point of the parade had not been to offend religious sensibilities but to “defend social, workers’ and feminist rights.” This appears to leave the door open to other cases where “offending religious sensibilities” is considered part of the intention.23thelocal.es/20151127/spanish-women-in-court-over-giant-plastic-vagina-protest; elsaltodiario.com/el-jornal-andaluz/ofensa-vulvar-cono-insumiso-sevilla-elena-duenas; theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/11/seville-judge-throws-out-rebellious-pussy-latex-vagina-effigy-case
In July 2017, the Spanish actor Willy Toledo wrote a Facebook post to express his indignation after three women were charged for offense against religious feelings by parading a large model of vagina through the streets of Seville during what was called the Procession of the insubordinate pussy. The Facebook post read:
“I shit on God and have enough shit left over to shit on the dogma of the saintliness and virginity of the Virgin Mary. This country is unbearably shameful. I’m disgusted. Go fuck yourselves. Long live the Insubordinate Pussy.”24elpais.com/elpais/2018/09/04/inenglish/1536063749_831261.html
The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers filed a complaint against Toledo. In May 2018, instead of appearing at court, the actor called a press conference where he stated that he had not committed any crime and therefore would not appear before a judge. In September 2018, the Court of Madrid issued an arrest warrant against Toledo after he twice failed to appear and testify in court.25eldiario.es/politica/archivan-mayoria-denuncias-sentimiento-religioso_0_343665942.html; humanistfederation.eu/spanish-actor-willy-toledo-prosecuted-following-case-on-insult-to-religion/
In February 2020, Toledo was acquitted of charges of obstruction of justice and hurting religious sentiments.26https://www.eldiario.es/cultura/willy-toledo-absuelto-sentimientos-religiosos_1_1108357.html
References [ + ]
|23.||↑||thelocal.es/20151127/spanish-women-in-court-over-giant-plastic-vagina-protest; elsaltodiario.com/el-jornal-andaluz/ofensa-vulvar-cono-insumiso-sevilla-elena-duenas; theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/11/seville-judge-throws-out-rebellious-pussy-latex-vagina-effigy-case|