Ombudsman says concept of 'family' must be discussed further

The definition of the concept of family in the Constitution should be a broad debate among experts and society, Ombudsman Juris Jansons said on Latvian Radio January 20.

In his opinion, advancing amendments to the Constitution on the definition of the concept of family have infringed the principle of good law practice. According to Jansons, this is being directed in a hasty manner, not discussed between experts on constitutional law or in society as a whole. A broad discussion is needed, given that there are very diametrically opposed views in society about “the concept of family as such.”

"I think there must be a serious debate in society, there must be some kind of compromise in society on the concept of family, and only then are we taking the next legislative step.

"This is about high quality legislation. Because the rules are written and adopted to comply with them and to improve our lives (…), "Jansons said.

The Ombudsman said that there could also be a referendum on the definition of the concept of family in the Constitution. This would not be possible at this time because of the restrictions imposed on Covid-19.

The Ombudsman acknowledged that, in his view, the basic law of Latvia should not be amended – Section 110 of the Constitution already states that the State protects and supports marriage. The only clarifications would be required in the Civil Law section of family law.

The concept of family, according to Jansons, is much more extensive than the version proposed. Jansons mentioned an example from his life: his family lives in one household with his sister's family. “And we are a family,” Janson said, pointing out that the definition of family concept should be seen more broadly and, at the same time, in order to ensure legal equality guaranteed by the Constitution.

“There are a series of groups of society, people for whom all rights are not guaranteed,” the Ombudsman said.

Jansons also said that it was unacceptable for him that some politicians had questioned the Constitutional Court judgment which recognized the same-sex couple's right to a parental leave.

“To question the authority of the Constitutional Court – it is unacceptable to me personally, and especially if it is from the highest political dimension. It is to question the country, it is to question the rule of law in the country,” Jansons said.

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