New declaration says protecting marriage important in protecting family

International pro-family leaders issued a declaration Dec. 3, urging governments around the world to protect the family by upholding, preserving and defending the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The Doha Declaration is the result of a two-day conference, which gathered representatives of governments and members of civil society from different religious backgrounds, in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 29-30.

The Doha International Conference for the Family was held in commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the United Nation’s International Year of the Family.

The declaration reaffirms that the family is the natural and fundamental unit of society, as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and it is entitled to the widest possible protection and assistance by society and the State.

It goes further in stating that the family is the fundamental agent for sustainable social, economic and cultural development, based on the data compiled for the conference from academic, scientific and sociological studies.

Governments must affirm the importance of faith, as well as religious and ethical beliefs, in maintaining family stability and social progress, says the document.

While several states continue to move toward the greater secularization of the school system, the declaration states that parents “have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children and the liberty to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”

It also calls on governments to strengthen policies and programs that will enable families to break the cycle of poverty; encourage and support the family to provide care for older persons and persons with disabilities; strengthen the stability of marriage and remedy abusive family situations.

The conference also announced the creation of an international Institute for Study of the Family.

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