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12.10.2009 20:21
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Deputies and Experts Clash Over Concept of Family

Ljubljana, 12 October (STA) - The general debate on the draft family law bill focused on the extended concept of family equalising same-sex unions with other family unions. The issue divided the 38 politicians and experts involved in the debate and also the public.

Minister of Labour, the Family and Social Affairs Ivan Svetlik said that the bill, which was first presented to the public on 21 September, changes the concept of a family union by not excluding any of its forms.

He believes that the traditional family will nevertheless remain the dominant form.

The bill is creating an opportunity to give equal rights also to those family unions which are different to the traditional one, Svetlik pointed out.

It puts the child and their rights in the centre, because it gives more freedom to act on suspicion that children's rights are being violated, prohibits corporal punishment and introduces an advocate of children's rights, he added.

After 35 years a new family law will deal with family issues in one place, in one document, which will bring Slovenia closer to other European countries, Svetlik said.

Alenka Svab of the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences noted that the motion should be perceived as part of a process of bringing greater plurality in society. This process is "typical of our time and also irreversible", she noted.

Svab also highlighted different perceptions of parenthood, which is no longer seen as "a purely biological role" and pointed to foster families, families with adopted children and reorganised families.

Senior judge Mateja Koncina Peternel said an advantage of the bill was that it clearly stated which authorities could act in which cases. Social services will keep their task of taking a child away from a family if they are in danger and continue to exercise control over parental care, she explained.

Psychoanalyst Roman Vodeb meanwhile spoke out against the bill, as he believes that a child must go through an Oedipus phase with a female mother and a male father to develop into an individual who will not have or cause problems in society.

Sociologist Tanja Rener disagreed saying that the bill "is not taking anything to anyone nor endangering anyone, but simply giving". It provides "a short and clear" definition of a family and prevents further discrimination.

A family is not defined by its form, but by its contents - a lasting relation of trust and care. Merely biological parenthood is no guarantee for that, said Rener.

Deputy of the biggest opposition party the Democrats (SDS), France Cukjati, meanwhile said the definition of a family in the document was an anomaly, which raises the question why the law would not allow unions of several persons of the same or different gender.

Former Higher Education Minister Mojca Kucler Dolinar agreed. Family is a traditional category and changing such basic concepts is "irresponsible to the society and our future", she argued.

In times of crisis, family life and marriage should be especially protected, as the traditional marriage is most open to life, Tadej Strehovec of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference noted.

Member of the opposition People's Party (SLS) Ales Primc said that the basic functions of a family are bearing and raising children, which is something that gay unions are incapable of. He added that unions between men and women were crucial for the survival of humans.

According to Justice Minister Ales Zalar, same sex couples already were already enjoyed the right to adopt in many countries, although not in Slovenia. Slovenian couples are adopting children abroad and bringing them to Slovenia, he explained.

MP of coalition Zares Vito Rozej labelled the changes "a positive step for the civilisation", a milestone which is comparable to giving voting rights to women.

Support for the document was also voiced by the youth wings of the coalition Social Democrats (SD), the Liberal Democrats (LDS) and Zares. They labelled it a positive step by Slovenia in terms of ensuring human rights.

Meanwhile, the youth wing of the SLS rejected it for reportedly putting the rights of certain groups ahead of children's rights.

Interestingly, a survey conducted by the daily Delo has meanwhile found that young people support the idea of a referendum on the bill. According to the results run in Monday's edition of the paper, some 49% of those aged between 18 and 25 and 47% of students support such a referendum.

12.10.2009 20:21

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