Arianna Caporali and Marie Digoix
manage the LawsAndFamilies database at INED and answered our questions about it.
(Interviewed in June 2017)
What does this database contain?
The open access LawsAndFamilies database provides data on legal recognition of same-sex couples in Europe. It is structured in three parts. The first is a survey of legal experts on the legal aspects of transitions affecting same-sex and different-sex couples in over 20 European jurisdictions. It is composed of 69 questions (on couple formalizing, separation, parenthood, cohabitation, etc.) and compares marriage, legally registered partnership and cohabitation over several decades. The results are presented for each jurisdiction in the form of referenced sources and an interactive database enabling users to create, visualize and export the data they have selected. The interactive format allows for dynamic research by jurisdiction or legal issue.
There is also a statistical series on same-sex marriage and partnership in 12 European countries. These data are organized by sex to provide distinct information on gay and lesbian couple behaviour. Users can also compare same-sex and different-sex couples.
Last, the database offers a comparative analysis of perceptions and behaviours of homo-, bi- and transsexuals in response to a variety of family situations, based on interviews conducted in Spain, France, Iceland and Italy.
The LawsAndFamilies database also contains references to data-related events and publications.
Who developed this database?
Kees Waaldijk of the University of Leiden has managed the entire project and directed the team of legal experts engaged in collecting and analysing the legal survey. A team of demographers and sociologists coordinated by INED’s Marie Digoix collected and analysed the statistical and sociological data in various European countries. INED research technicians manage the technical aspects of the project. The database is part of the European FamiliesAndSocieties research programme coordinated by Stockholm University
Why was it created?
In 2009, INED together with Kees Waaldijk conducted a similar research project on the nine European countries where same-sex union was legal. Increasing numbers of countries have since passed laws of the same kind, or laws recognizing rights and advantages for cohabiting couples. But national laws continue to treat different types of couples differently. The aim of the LawsAndFamilies database is to document, bring to light and analyse the developments and differences between countries in the area of legal recognition of the legal consequences of same-sex unions.
What do the data tell us and why is this database important?
The first analyses show convergence of western European countries in the direction of rights provision and greater equality for increasingly diverse types of families, despite the fact that progress is only partial, particularly in the area of parenthood. The impact of these laws on the lives of homosexual families is considerable. Socially speaking, they seem to have been needed to ensure and secure the daily existence of homosexual families. They are also useful educationally, in gaining general recognition of homosexuality.