The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society,” and the family is therefore entitled to protection by society and the state. The human rights of the family include a wide range of basic entitlements, including: the right to marry and found a family, equal gender rights within the family, the right to give full and free consent to marriage, the right to family planning, the rights of children to parental care, and the right to family reunification in times of crisis. Because human rights and universal and inalienable, these rights are not prescriptive; families come in all shapes and sizes, and human rights standards do not require families to conform to traditional roles in order to qualify for protection and respect.
Family rights gain salience in different ways around the world, depending on the issues and challenges prevalent in each society. In the United States and Europe, for instance, advocacy related to the rights of the family often intersect with LGBTQ rights – including the rights to gay marriage and adoption. In other parts of the world, issues such as forced marriage and access to family planning are at the forefront of human rights debates. Although advocacy efforts are varied and diverse, the rights of the family are essential for promoting human dignity and protecting the bonds of family love.
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