Policy Tasks to Guarantee Family Diversity: Non-marriage and Unrelated Families’ Experiences and Demands of Policy Reform
Kim Young Jeong
Research Fellow, Seoul Foundation of Women & Family
Nowadays, many families are non-traditional or alternative. The non-traditional family units can be same-sex couples/parents, co-habiting couples/parents, and unrelated housemates, and the number of such families has been increasing. This study aims to explore the various forms of family, focusing on the discrimination that non-married and non-kin households experience. Second, it proposes policy changes to guarantee the of Seoul citizens’ rights to family life. The research conducted surveys and focus group interviews of people living in unmarried couples or unmarried housemates and literature analysis of legal data and overseas cases.
The legal system does not recognise them as partners in life and the current family and marriage norms typically deny their relationship. Even though they live together and conduct “family practice,” their rights are not protected. Disapproval of such relations and institutional discrimination resulting from this does not end at an abstract level but is experienced in everyday lives and practical livelihoods. Specific cases include the recognition of common property, exclusion from housing support policies, and the inability to play a guardian's role (hospital, police station, etc.) in emergencies.
To improve these families' lives, the study suggests launching the Seoul Civil Partnership Registration System. Although the regional approach, like the partnership registration system of Japanese local governments, is not guaranteed to be legally binding, it can be expected to improve social awareness and have ripple effects through social approval of actual family relations. In addition, even before full institutional acceptance, it can help resolve discrimination of such families. City hospitals, city-affiliated institutions, and partner companies can use the proposed partnership system to guarantee their rights and make efforts to improve the right to care, economic rights, and social awareness.
*Key words: family, intimacy, family diversity, civil partnership, living together