Family in Europe Today

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Brussels
What happens to European understanding and tolerance when it comes to marriage, family and the union? Recent history has given us a large panel of different models on marriage, the family and unions. There are marriages which are arranged to create links between countries and parents, there are love marriages, nuclear families, divorces and remarriages, step-parents and step-children and, more recently, marriages between people of the same sex. These cultural models have altered the religious, cultural and ideological beliefs established by a certain European varied way of living which had not been founded on a cooperative legislation. In the face of new challenges, such as polygamous marriages and international arranged marriages, legislation and culture do not seem to have got beyond the ‘European borders’ which separate continents, states and people. With an increase in mobility and emigration and households embracing new ways of living, we need to redefine the essence of the family and the concept of union.Professor Maria Szyszkowska (born on 7 October 1937 in Warsaw) is a Polish academic, with a qualification in Philosophy of Law awarded by the Catholic University of Lublin. The writer, who has also held the position of senator, has written more than 20 books on cultural philosophy.
Between 1993 and 1997, she was a judge at the State Tribunal.
Between 2001 and 2005, Maria Szyszkowska was a member of the SLD (Democratic Left Alliance), where she directed its Commission on Ethics. The ex-president of the socialist party RACJA, she is currently vice president of the Polish section of the Venice European Society of Culture (SEC).
She is also a professor at the University of Warsaw, where she teaches Philosophy of Law and Philosophy of Culture.

During her time as a senator, Maria Szyszkowska introduced a change to legislation which aimed to recognise civil partnerships between people of the same sex. She was rewarded several times for her work promoting tolerance and the acceptance of difference, as well as equal rights for gays and lesbians. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.
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