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Family or Accomplices



One of the recent cases relating to homosexual couples is really outrageous and follows unquestioned acceptance by European countries of homosexual couples as being a family. It is the case of O’Neil v Scottish Ministers, Court of Session (2015) where two male co-offenders were sentenced to life imprisonment.

They were a homosexual couple sentenced for murder and many sex offences against boys aged 8 to 17 years old. But, they still thought about each other as a family. Therefore, they applied for judicial review which is a procedure where a court reviews a public body’s administrative action. The defendants complaints by which they tried to trigger this process related to the fact that the Scottish Prison Service refused to allow them to see each other on inter-prison visits. 

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They claimed that it was against Art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which allows for freedom of privacy and family life. They even sought damages for this inconvenience they had to face.
Demands and complaints of this homosexual couple seem surprising considering that they had been charged with drug offences, arranging to meet a six year old boy with intention of engaging in unlawful sexual activity with him and using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices against him as well as possessing indecent images of children in addition to murder charges.

Nevertheless, the Court of Session used this opportunity to consider what family life under Art8 means. It therefore explained that the right to a family life does not define what a relationship means but it could include financial, social and emotional dependence where living together could be an indicator of a relationship or a marriage certificate can be such an indicator.

So, we live in a world where people no longer know what a family means and even courts struggle to explain it. Therefore, the court held in this case that because these two men were complicit in sexual offences against young males it proves that they were in a relationship.

Although, this relationship did not attract the support or merit the protection of Art8. So, they were not allowed to meet, after all. But, it is worrying that people no longer see marriage and having children as indicators of existence of a family. The court rather sees financial dependence, living together and even committing crimes together as signs of existence of a family. 

However, charities are also dependent on donations but those who support them cannot be called a family members of founders of a particular charity. Similarly, people have lodgers who pay for a room but they are certainly not family members. Emotional dependence is also not a sufficient sign of existence of a family as even hostages feel over time an emotional bond with their kidnappers. 

So, why complicate it so much? It is a simple matter. Family is mom, dad, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Creating more complicated definitions than that is just going to be too confusing.

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