Equality, Dignity, and Social Harmony
————Exploring the Rationales and Models for Recognizing Same-Sex Relationships in Law
One of the major changes that has taken place over the past twenty to thirty years has been the extension of the legal recognition and protections for same-sex relationships in a wide range of countries. A number of jurisdictions, including China, are considering the approach that they will adopt. This article seeks firstly to consider the justifications for the legal recognition of same-sex relationships by the state. Three main, compelling rationales are identified which are rooted in notions of the equality of all persons, the dignity and liberty of individuals to form close personal relationships, and the social benefits of recognizing close, personal relationships of same-sex couples.
The second part of this article then turns to consider the manner in which same-sex relationships should be recognized. Four models are identified: a “Partial Rights” model; a “Civil Partnerships” model; a “Marriage Equality” model, and a “Diversity of Relationships” model. Reasons for and against these particular models will be examined. In the conclusion, it shall be argued that the choice of model that has been adopted can be seen to depend on a number of factors: the manner in which equality is conceived in that society; the understanding of same-sex relationships therein, and the religious and cultural opposition to same-sex relationships in that society. The models are also not
states of affairs that are fixed for all time and many countries have progressed from less extensive forms of recognition to wider recognition over time. Ultimately, it shall be argued that the rationales underlying the recognition of close personal relationships in the law support the “Marriage Equality” model or the “Diversity of Relationships” model. This article thus seeks to provide an understanding of the rationales and models for recognizing same-sex relationships that have been adopted around the world: Its focus is thus comparative but may, in this way, be useful to lawmakers and advocates for legal reform in this area in China and other jurisdictions around the world.
||Equality, Dignity, and Social Harmony