Roundtable discussion on family protection


December 9 @ 10:0012:30

about the „Roundtable discussion on family protection”.

Venue: Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law (Bp. XII. Alkotás street 55.)

Length of the discussion: 2.5 hour (10:00-12:30).

Participants of the discussion:

  • Barzó Tímea full professor, head of the research group, moderator;
  • Kovács József full professor, psychologist, bioethical specialist;
  • Kőrös András lawyer in family law, retired judge of the Curia;
  • Lenkovics Barnabás, professor emeritus, former head of the Constitutional Court;
  • Molnár Balázs, Vice President of the Maria Kopp Institute.

The starting point for the discussion: the crisis of the institution of marriage and the family, the aging of society, the lack of social reproduction in “Western civilization”; the threat of extinction of the white human; the possibility, way, and chance of “protection”.

Legal framework for the debate: Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

(1) Men and women (…) have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) 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.

The participants interpreted the 12th declaration of the National Commitment and Relief of the Fundamental Law of Hungary: „We proclaim that family and nation are the cornerstones of co-existence, with loyalty, faith and love constituting the principal values of unity.”  The text of the Section (1) of the Article L) was also interpreted in the same way: „Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage, the conjugal union of one man and one woman based on their voluntary and mutual consent; Hungary shall also protect the institution of the family, which is the foundation for the survival of the nation. The basis for family relationship is marriage, as well as the relationship between parent and child. The mother is a woman and the father is a man.”

The participants emphasized, that the traditional marriage and family are rich in content and fundamental (human rights and constitutional) values, and additional values and social benefits can be derived from these: e.g. an indispensable component of monogamy is loyalty to each another and to the given word; trust in each other; mutual and selfless support for each other (solidarity). Their social significance can be detectable in the state of social trust capital and in the establishment, maintenance and operation of large social solidarity institutions (public education, public health care system, pension system, social care). In the family as a community of love, paternal, maternal and child love complement and balance each other, while ensure the harmonious functioning of marriage and family, and improving the personalities of family members. The family is not a venue for winner-loser, but for winner-winner games, and its importance in the socialization of children is invaluable.

The discussion dealt with the matrimonial and family law practice of the ordinary courts. There was a consensus in the issue that divorce cannot be a tool for conflict management, so the institutionalization of divorce mediation, relationship and family therapy needs to be increased. Since it is strictly forbidden to distinguish between children born in wedlock and out of wedlock, and because alternative relationships can have the same values ​​as a protected marriage and family, the judicial practice approaches the protection of these in the interests of justice and fairness. This approach does not prejudice the protection of fundamental values ​​emphasized in the Constitution, just as the priority protection does not constitute discrimination either. There was also a consensus in the manner that the level of legal protection achieved so far should not be reduced for either the family based on marriage or sociological relationships, but it is desirable to increase it (non-derogation principle).

Respect for privacy, private life and family life requires, that the state refrain from intervening. However, in exceptional cases rapid and effective intervention is necessary (to protect children, women, and elderly people, ie the protection of “weaker party”). Child protection shall be more strengthened in line with the principle of the best interest of the child.

During the roundtable discussion, the system, positive effects, tendencies and successes of family protection and support, which has been developed so far and is also exemplary internationally were described. All this shall be regarded as a new kind of institutional system of great social solidarity and shall be further expanded and consolidated.

Finally, the discussion suggested the shaping of the sociocentric image of the person instead of the egocentric for the future. For this, the value system of selfish individualism (I am for myself; the world is for me; you are for me too!) shall be replaced by the value system of familism (I am for my partner – my spouse; we are for our children; our family is for the nation too!). As with the protection of the environment and climate, there is a need for a change in the value system in the field of marriage and family protection, both on the side of the individual and on the family-friendly society and the state as well.

The summary is made by Lenkovics Barnabás

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