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Réforme de la loi sur la liberté de religion en Espagne : un éternel débat

June 2017

The update of the 1980 organic law of religious freedom has been an ongoing discussion in Spain over the last decade. Attempts to reform the law have taken place at different moments in time, not one of them, though, leading to any actual modifications. The modification of such a law is particularly difficult because it is an organic law, which requires the vote of the absolute majority of the parliament to be modified.

At the end of 2010, the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had already disregarded the idea of reforming the text that had been discussed in the months before. The lack of political consensus made the government discard the possibility of generating an updated version of the law. Some of the changes that were considered and debated within the Socialist Party itself were to remove religious symbols from public buildings and the elimination of state funerals (see article in El País).

In 2015, Podemos, the newly created political party lead by Pablo Iglesias, included the passing of a new law on “Freedom of consciousness” in its electoral programme. According to this programme, the new law would grant the secular character of the state (“la laicidad del Estado”) and its neutrality towards all religious confessions. The programme also included the elimination of the Concordat Agreement with the Holy See and the 1992 Cooperation Agreements with the Muslim, Protestant and Jewish federations, among other measures.

In June 2017, the Catalan Republican party ERC brought up once more the debate in the congress. ERC reminded the Socialist Party (PSOE) its promise to change the current law in 2010. Similarly to some of the changes proposed by Podemos, ERC suggested the removal of religious symbols from public schools and buildings, the transformation of state religious funerals into secular ones, and the elimination of tax exemptions for religious groups, among others (see article in El Periódico).

To date, no changes have been made to the 1980 organic law of religious freedom and the current fragmented composition of the parliament does not seem to provide the consensus needed for such a modification.

See also "13 June 2010: Law on religious freedom".

15 septembre 2017