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International News Archive
December 01 -  December 06, 2000


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This page contains news for the period December 01, 2000 through December 06, 2000.



<<   December 2000  >>

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Wednesday, December 6, 2000

British monarchy law challenged as human rights violation

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a British newspaper, The Guardian, is filing court challenges to two legal pillars of the British monarchy on the grounds that they violate human rights.

The Guardian, a pro-reform broadsheet that favors making Britain a republic, is challenging the Act of Settlement and the Treason Felony Act -- pieces of legislation that help define the status of the Royal Family
within the constitution.

The Act of Settlement of 1701 outlines the rules of royal succession and the powers of the Crown. It bars non-Protestants, people married to non-Protestants, adopted children and children born to unmarried parents from succeeding to the throne.

The Guardian said the two pieces of legislation it is challenging clash with Britain's new Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act, which came into effect in October, is designed to bring Britain into line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

A total of 705 people aged between 18 and 35 were interviewed for the poll carried out by the BVA Research group ahead of the Marriage Salon Exhibition, which will be held in Aris between January 13 and 15. (AFP)

Wednesday, December 5, 2000

Attitudes about marriage are changing in France

A story published today in the Times of India reports that two out of three people in France believe the institution of marriage is coming back into fashion, but almost a quarter no longer see it as a lifelong commitment, according to a poll published on Sunday.

Sixty-five per cent of those participating in the survey said they tthink marriage is returning to fashion while 21 per cent believe it is completely or largely outdated, compared with 25 per cent in a similar poll four years ago.

But the numbers who believe marriage is a lifelong commitment have fallen to 76 per cent, from 82 per cent in 1996.

Then, as now, only 37 per cent of the French feel that marriage possesses the same or greater value it did 10 or 20 years ago, while 60 per cent believe it has less value.

Slightly more than half, 53 per cent, still believe marriage is more important than partnerships of unmarried couples. But 40 per cent believe that "civil solidarity pacts" of unmarried partners, as they are called here, are as important or more important than traditional marriages.

Among single persons asked, 58 per cent said that they intended to marry, including 5 per cent planning to tie the knot next year.

According to the story, the main motivations for marrying were - to found a family, to have a big wedding, and for religious reasons, in that order of priority.

Fifteen per cent of singles said that they planned to set up home with a partner without getting married.


Friday, December 1, 2000

British labor minister says government should not promote marriage as the ideal form of family

A story published today by the London Telegraph reports that Tessa Jowell, minister for employment and women, chided the British government for promoting marriage as the ideal form of family unit.

Intervening in the debate on family policy which has been raging in the Labor Party, she says it would be wrong to make the offspring of single mothers or cohabiting couples feel inferior.

"We would never want to advocate a family policy that made some children feel they were first class children and others feel they were second class," she says in an interview in The Telegraph. "Children thrive in a stable environment, being brought up by parents who love them. I think in the 21st century families come in all shapes and sizes."

Jowell says she does not think that marriage is necessarily the best model. "Adults have a range of ways in which they express their commitment. Governments do not bring up children. I don't think parents want to be told what to do; they want to be given the opportunity to choose what is right for them and their family."

The story predicts that her comments will infuriate some of her colleagues. In recent months Paul Boateng, the Home Office minister, has been pushing for a forthcoming consultation paper on the subject to advocate marriage as the ideal.

But other ministers, including Baroness Jay, the leader of the Lords, and Margaret Hodge, an education minister, have refused to endorse the approach, fearing that it would alienate single and cohabiting parents. They have also argued that it could leave ministers open to an assault on their own lives.

The Tories said Miss Jowell's remarks showed that the Government no longer supported traditional family values. Ann Widdecombe, the shadow home secretary, said last night: "If this is what a Government minister is saying, it gives the lie to Tony Blair's claims to be the party of the family."

Jowell insists that the Government is committed to children. "Once you have children, you are responsible for them and it is perfectly right that as a society we expect them to be." Jowell, who is married to David Mills, a corporate lawyer, has two children and three stepchildren. She has been married once before.

Next week the Government will launch its long-awaited green paper on parental leave, setting out proposals to extend maternity leave and pay and introduce paternity leave. "There is very strong evidence indeed that women want longer away from work after they have had a baby," Jowell says.

In April, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, scrapped the married couples' tax allowance and replaced it with a children's tax credit which will go to all parents. A green paper, Supporting Families, published by the Home Office in 1998, stated: "The Government believes that marriage provides a strong foundation for stable relationships. We do share the belief of the majority of people that marriage provides the most reliable framework for raising children."

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