Inequality between Equals – Claudia Estrella, Spain



The Spanish Constitution currently in force is close to breaking the record for the longest constitution in Spain ever, a record that is currently held by the Constitution of 1876. The Spanish Constitution is characterized by its democratic ideology. One of its more basic articles reads that all Spanish citizens are equal before the law with no concern of race, gender, religion, opinion or any other personal or social reasons. This seems like an optimal ruling, so what is the problem? The issue is referred to as Ley de Sucesión (Succession Law). According to article 57, when it comes to inheriting the throne, men have privilege over women. In other words, the monarchy heredity abolishes article 14, which expresses the idea of equality amongst Spanish citizens.   

As of now, King Felipe VI of Spain and his wife Letizia Ortiz have two daughters: Infantas Leonor and Sofía, the former being the successor. However, if a male child was born into the family, he would be immediately brought forward in the family line for inheritance.

This article not only contradicts the democratic and liberal aspect of the 1978 Constitution, but also questions whether the rest of the Constitution of Spain should be changed in order for it to represent more accurately its citizen’s rights. Not only are women still denied basic human rights such as equality, but there are also other articles that should be reconsidered given their contradictory consideration. For instance, article 32.1 establishes that all Spanish citizens have a right to decide who they want to marry. However, if a possible throne successor marries someone without the King’s approval, that successor would be denied the honour of king or queen of Spain.

Spain is one of the only countries in Europe, besides Monaco and Liechtenstein, that continues to discriminate against women in the throne succession line. When Leonor was born, her father was asked whether a queen had come into this world. Felipe VI answered that up to that moment she was not a queen, but rather an infant. Time (and the Government) will define if this prediction is fulfilled or if unfairness and sexism will still have power over civil rights.

There is, however, another side to the story. Monarchy rules don’t only discriminate women, but surprisingly also men are victims of inequality. For instance, when a female marries a king, she automatically becomes queen of their country. On the contrary, when a man marries a queen he cannot be considered as king. Why is it that unfairness reigns over tolerance and equality?

It is a fact that the Constitution’s articles need to be reconsidered, as it is undeniable that some of them violate some of the most basic human rights.

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