Conscientious Objection Denied to Public Servants

Country: Spain

Date of incident: April 28, 2005

The Superior Tribunal of Madrid ruled against the right to conscientious objection to registry officers who requested to be exempted, and/or replaced by a colleague, in cases of same-sex marriage. The Tribunal understands that public servants swear full obedience to the law and are to abide by it. "The absolute submission to the law cannot be dismissed nor justified in any case, mostly when a private belief is at stake" confirmed the Tribunal.

The Spanish Act 13/2005 extended the right to marriage to same sex couples. Unlike other regulations worldwide, Spanish law does not consider a same-sex union a civil union or a contract, but a marriage, giving homosexual unions the same status and rights granted to heterosexual unions. As a consequence, homosexual couples are also entitled to adopt. The Act contains no specific provision on conscientious objection for public officers who are requested to wed same-sex partners or to transfer the legal rights to a child on them by adoption. Juan Fernando López Aguilar, head of the Justice State Department, pointed out during an interview broadcast by Radio Punto that "in a democratic society, there is no room to claim conscientious objection to avoid the observance of the [same-sex marriage] law passed by the Parliament". The celebration of a "same-sex marriage does not affect freedom of conscious, nor it is related to any religion or any sacrament", added Lopez Aguilar. The speaker for the Socialist party (PSOE) in the Congress, Diego Lopez Garrido, showed his satisfaction with the decision of the General Counsel at the Judiciary Branch, "It is a thoughtful decision and I am very glad with it. Otherwise, it would have meant to allow officers to disobey the law". Similar thoughts were heard from then vice president Fernández de la Vega. Sources: