Due to undesirable effects, the new sex criminal law in Spain will only be changed again about five months after it came into force. After heated debates, the lower house of parliament in Madrid approved a proposal by the left-wing government to initiate the reform process on Tuesday evening.
The so-called “Only yes means yes” law, which unexpectedly led to the early release of more than 70 sex criminals, triggered a violent crisis within the coalition nine months before the parliamentary elections. According to polls, the conservative opposition is now more popular with voters.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialist Party (PSOE) was supported by the conservative opposition, among others, in its motion in Parliament on Tuesday. The coalition junior partner Unidas Podemos (UP) meanwhile voted against it.
The law, which not only introduced higher maximum penalties but also lower minimum penalties in some cases, had both unexpected and undesirable effects. Lawyers for incarcerated sex offenders exploited loopholes in the rules that went into effect in October, securing sentence reductions in more than 700 cases.
The UP fears that the PSOE could give in to the demands of the conservative opposition and accept a return to the old way of life in the forthcoming debates on the renewed reform of the law: "We do not want a return to a patriarchal system in which you as a Victims were asked if their legs were properly closed," said UP Gender Equality Minister Irene Montero.
PSOE politicians, meanwhile, have denied UP's allegations and said they will not deviate from the principle of the consent of all parties involved in sexual acts. PSOE's reform proposal increases most sentences to up to 15 years in prison, but at the same time puts a stronger focus on the use of force and intimidation criteria, which UP dislikes.
The controversial law also criminalized "intimidating" compliments and the distribution of sex videos. With this initiative, the government responded to several cases of gang rape last year, in which the perpetrators got off with relatively light sentences. Montero had said that the "rape culture" would be put to an end.