MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Sunday apologized to the victims of a government-sponsored sexual freedom law passed last October that was aimed at increasing protection for women, but inadvertently allowed hundreds of convicted sex offenders to have their sentences reduced.
The legislation, known as the “only yes means yes” law, is set to undergo reform this coming week to address the legal loophole, following months of debate in the country and tension between the two left-wing coalition partners in the government — the majority Socialist party and Unidas Podemos, the junior party that sponsored the law.
“No lawmaker, even those who voted against this law, is in favor of reducing sentences. Therefore, I apologize to the victims and we will find a solution to these unintended effects, because it is the best way to defend the law itself,” Sánchez said in an interview with local media on the sidelines of a campaign event for the upcoming regional elections in Spain on May 28.
According to the latest official data, courts have reduced the sentences of 978 sexual offenders under the sexual freedom law and at least 104 convicts have been granted early release.
The law made verbal consent, or the lack thereof, the key factor in cases of alleged sexual assault. However, it also revised the minimum and maximum prison terms for sexual assault convictions, resulting in judges being able to reduce sentences for rapists and abusers on appeal, by shaving off months or even years from their convictions.