Sex equality law for aristocrats sparks row

9th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 June 2006, MADRID — A law to grant equal inheritance rights between men and women for Spanish nobles has provoked a legal and political row.The draft bill would end the 800-year-old right of the male first-born to inherit.

9 June 2006

MADRID — A law to grant equal inheritance rights between men and women for Spanish nobles has provoked a legal and political row.

The draft bill would end the 800-year-old right of the male first-born to inherit.

It has the support of the Socialist government and opposition Popular Party (PP).

But the Congress Justice Committee, which examined the draft law in parliament, said it would be legally impossible to apply the law retrospectively – as both the government and the PP suggested.

It said the law cannot apply when a title has been passed on to a first son rather than an older sister.

There are currently 2,097 noble titles in Spain, from dukes to marquises, and their passage from one generation is by sexually biased laws which came in during the 13th and 14th centuries.

But several women aristocrats have appealed to Spanish and international courts, claiming the male preference goes against article 14 of the Spanish Constitution, which declares all citizens are equal before the law.

Their demands were rejected and a ruling by the Consitutional Court in 1997 had apparently resolved the question, declaring the constitutional principle could not be applied to anything of purely "symbolic character".

But Spain's two main political parties, who have the support of the Canary Islands Coalition, are determined to bring the law into effect.

Against this background, the left-wing United Left party and the Catalan nationalist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) strongly oppose the change.

In an apparently contrary move from two left-wing parties, they argue legislating on the matter at all adds legitimacy to noble titles, which they say are anachronistic.

But faced with a complex legal issue, which has provoked a fierce debate in Spain in recent years, the parliamentary justice committee has asked for an independent review.

This unusual move has provoked a fresh split with the PP, which has backed the move so far.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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