Some places might be tiring of it but in Spain the gender revolution rolls on. The socialist government’s latest move is to legislate against the priority traditionally given to the father’s surname in birth registers.

The Guardian reports:

Spaniards have two surnames, and under current law either can come first. Traditionally, however, it is the father’s, and in cases of a dispute the father’s name automatically takes priority.

Under a law proposed by the country’s socialist government, however, registrars will be told to put the surnames in alphabetical order – unless otherwise instructed by the parents.

The rule would have altered some of the most famous names in Spanish history. The man who ruled as a dictator for 36 years, General Francisco Franco, would have become General Bahamonde, and the architect Antoni Gaudi would have been known as Antoni Cornet.

Critics say it would endanger surnames whose first letters are at the end of the alphabet. In that case Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero’s surname could be among the earliest casualties.

The law also proposes letting people replace the name of a parent who has been found to have abused them as a child.

It was unclear what it would do about single mothers – who have generally been obliged to invent a second surname for their children if they do not want their child to receive the father’s name.

A couple of years ago Zapatero put a young woman member of his government in charge of a new ministry of equality who wanted, among other things, a make-over of the Spanish language to create feminine forms of masculine gendered words, including minister, boss, lawyer, policeman and soldier. He also gave the military portfolio to a woman.

Since the Socialists came to power in 2004 they have liberalised divorce, legalised same-sex marriage, and earlier this year passed a sweeping new law that, in the name of women’s rights, allows abortion without restrictions up to 14 weeks and gives 16- and 17-year-olds the right to have abortions without parental consent. Abortions are also allowed in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy if the fetus has a serious or incurable disease.

Whatever gender equity has done for Spain it has not saved its economy from crashing: 20 per cent of Spaniards are unemployed.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet