Marriage and UN human rights

Article 16 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in full states:

  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. 

  2. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

    See a summary of these human rights principles here

What is the definition of "family"?

Up until the beginning of the last century, most people would have considered the most accurate definitions of 'family' to be based upon biological connections (definitions 1 to 4 below). Without DNA testing, there was no precise way of determining whether children were actually genetically connected to both parents. Even so, a definition based upon a household of adults and children, not necessarily biologically related, caring for each other was certainly not unknown (definition 5 below). 

In the last century, many factors influenced people's understanding of the definition of 'family' away from biological factors and more towards towards the caring household of adults and children (definition 5 below).  Some of these factors were changes in transportation and employment, globalisation, advances in science and technology of birth control methods, treatment for infertility and ex-utero fertilization of embryos, changes on social attitudes to gender and sexual behaviours.

Some of the differences in opinions for or against same sex marriage are based upon people's underlying assumptions of the nature of 'family'.

family in British

  1. a. a primary social group consisting of parents and their offspring, the principal function of which is provision for its members
    b. (as modifier)
    family quarrels
    a family unit

  2. one's wife or husband and one's children

  3. one's children, as distinguished from one's husband or wife

  4. a group of persons related by blood; a group descended from a common ancestor
    Compare extended family

  5.  all the persons living together in one household

  6.  any group of related things or beings, esp when scientifically categorized

  7. biology - any of the taxonomic groups into which an order is divided and which contains one or more genera. Felidae (cat family) and Canidae (dog family) are two families of the order Carnivora
  8. ecology - a group of organisms of the same species living together in a community
  9.  a group of historically related languages assumed to derive from one original language

  10. mainly US - an independent local group of the Mafia
  11. mathematics - a group of curves or surfaces whose equations differ from a given equation only in the values assigned to one or more constants in each curve
    a family of concentric circles
  12. physics - the isotopes, collectively, that comprise a radioactive series
  13. in the family way

    Reference: Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper-Collins Publishers

    Word origin of 'family'

    C15: from Latin familia a household, servants of the house, from famulus servant
Last modified on Friday, 22 September 2017 06:10