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MADRID (AP) — A new Spanish law requiring an explicit expression of consent in sexual relations won’t take effect just yet, after the country’s Senate on Tuesday demanded a minor change in wording in the law’s preamble and sent it back to parliament.

The legislation, popularly known as the “Only yes means yes” law, was set to pass in the Senate, but a small party won support for its demand for a change. That could delay the law by several months.

The legislation, long championed by Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government, has its roots in the outcry over a gang rape that shocked the country during the San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

Initially, a court found the five men accused in the case known as “La Manada” (The Pack) guilty of sexual abuse, but not rape, because the unconscious victim wasn’t proven to have objected to what was happening.

Under the new law, silence or passivity won’t be considered as indicating consensual sex, which will require an explicit expression of agreement from the partners.

Lawmakers from the conservative Popular Party, which is the main opposition party, and the far-right Vox party, were against the legislation.

The initial sentences in the San Fermin case prompted widespread protests across the country and calls for Spain to join other countries in Europe in legally defining rape as sex without consent.

Spain’s Supreme Court later overruled two lower courts and sentenced the five defendants to 15 years in prison for rape.


This story has been corrected to show that the law wasn’t approved and won’t take effect until it goes back to parliament.