Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Redefining language

Have you noticed how terms such as ‘married couple’, Christian name’, etc., are rapidly disappearing from official forms? If you are applying for a passport, you are asked for your ‘forename’.

If you want to carry out a search for a family member in the Census of Ireland you are required to supply the ‘forename’ of the person involved. The HSE (Health Service Executive) refers to ‘a member of a couple’, and ‘the other member of the couple’. A ‘couple’ is defined by the HSE as ‘(a) a married couple who are living together or (b) a heterosexual or same sex couple who are cohabiting as life partners for at least three years.’ This, to my mind, is a deliberate effort to downgrade marriage and the family, and it is also reflected in the terminology used in the proposed ‘Civil Partnership Bill’ that is proceeding through the Irish Oireachtas (parliament) at the moment.

Under that bill, rather than using the term ‘marital status’, the term ‘civil status’ is used throughout. Not only that, but the term ‘marital status’ is to be removed from all previous relevant (‘equality’, ‘equal status’, ‘finance’, ‘social welfare’, etc) legislation – to be replaced by the term ‘civil status’. This is considered to be non-discriminatory?

What about the discrimination towards marriage and the family, and the equating of marriage and the family with any and all sorts of other living arrangements?