UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 27th session Panel on the Protection of the Family and its Members Intervention by Austria, Croatia and Slovenia Mr. President, I would like to present this statement on behalf of Austria, Croatia and my own country, Slovenia. All three countries attach great importance to protect and support all families and their members with a range of social policies and programs. In this, we strive to help all families and their members, regardless of family size, origin, form or composition. It is also important to note that no one should be forced to form a family. We oppose child early or forced marriages and interdictions to marry because of different religious denominations. We all agree that a loving family environment is of great importance for the full and harmonious development of children. Therefore a family should be based on mutual respect and understanding among all its members. No family member should be discriminated against based on his or her gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, race, colour, nationality, religion or belief or any other personal circumstances – neither by other family members, society nor the state. In this vein, we have to respect different forms of families, including single–parents and same sex partners that exist in line with the constitutions and domestic legal system and in the context of progressive development of international human rights law. Our governments play an active role fostering equality and mutual respect within the family and among family members through different incentives, such as positive parenting programs. Could the panellists give examples of other initiatives aimed at ensuring equality of family members, in particular gender equality? States should create an enabling environment for all families to flourish. However, the primal responsibility of all states is to protect and support each individual victim of discrimination, violence, abuse or harmful practice within the family. Could panellists share their experience on how victims of domestic violence can be supported to claim their rights? Our countries strive to ensure to support in particular weaker family members through easily accessible services and prevention programs. I thank you.