International Family Equality Day celebrates the diversity of LGBTQ+ families around the world. Since 2012, the first Sunday of May has acted as a unique LGBTQ+ awareness day with a focus on the importance of equality and family diversity.

In 2023, International Family Equality Day falls on Sunday 7 May.

The ‘traditional family’ structure is far from the only one in modern society. Around the world, we are seeing more and more children grow up in families where at least one of their parents identify as LGBTQ+. However, the different laws and cultures in different countries mean that each of these ‘rainbow families’ has different lived equality experiences. LGBTQ+ families in the UK legally have equal rights, but parents and children in many other countries face discrimination and even fear of violence for who they and their families are.

The pace of progress is often surprising, with European countries considered ‘modern’ often being unexpectedly behind. For example, Switzerland only legalised same-sex marriages in summer 2022, after two-thirds of the population voted yes to the proposal. Same-sex marriages have been legal in England and Wales since 2014, and before that, civil partnerships gave opposite-sex couples legal recognition in 2005.

Different Types of Family Structures

Today, people within and outside the LGBTQ+ community find themselves in various family units, each with different dynamics but equally important to an individual. These include:

  • Single parent families
  • Blended families
  • Adopted families
  • Extended families
  • Chosen families

In recent years, the concept of a chosen family has increasingly become part of the contemporary suite of family structure despite not being recognised in legislation. People who are estranged or living away from their biological families form familial bonds with people they are not related to. People who move internationally for example create networks or are adopted into families in their host location, forming deep connections similar to the familial bond. Chosen families are often significant for people from the LGBTQ+ community if they have faced discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and have been rejected by their biological family, for example.

Marking International Family Equality Day around the world

By honouring International Family Equality Day, we raise awareness among politicians and the public about the need for equal treatment and recognition for all families, no matter the sexual orientation or identity make-up of their members.

In 2022, IFED was marked in 237 towns across 71 different countries. This year’s theme is ‘Power-Up Families’, calling on everyone to support, accept and value LGBTQ+ families and empowering them to claim equality and embrace their diversity.

Did you know?

  • The Office for National Statistics found that in 2019 there were 212,000 same-sex families in the UK, an increase of 40% since 2015.
  • The Department of Education found that adoptions by same-sex couples in England rose by 17% in 2022 compared to 2021. 540 out of 2,950 adoptions were done by same-sex couples.
  • Stonewall, a UK-based charity that stands for the freedom, equity and potential of all lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people, recently compiled a Rainbow Britain report. It found that in Gen Z, only 71% of people identify as straight, compared to 91% of baby boomers. When asked who they are attracted to, just 53% said they were exclusively straight and 40% showed queer patterns of attraction (outside the scope of exclusively heterosexual attractions between cisgender people).

This information illustrates that families are increasingly reflecting the modern world, which will be ever more evident in the next couple of decades.

Divorce and Family Law at Stewarts

As the pre-eminent Divorce and Family practice in the UK, the team at Stewarts understands how the traditional family model has changed and evolved to reflect this modern world. With extensive expertise and experience in all areas of family law, we are best placed to understand the unique needs of the rainbow of family clients that increasingly instruct us, even in the most complex situations.

Last year, Senior Associate Jenny Duggan co-moderated a panel with Trust and Probate Litigation Partner Emma Holland, discussing ‘The End of The Rainbow – Disputes within LGBTQ+ Families’ at a conference on gender and inclusivity in international families organised by the International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA). Panel members included lawyers from Brazil, Switzerland, France and Spain.

Should you have questions relating to marriage, divorce and cohabitation of same sex-couples, legal recognition of parents within the LGBTQ+ community, international relocation and issues arising from surrogacy arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact our experts.

This article was written by Senior Paralegal Tara Ramlill.



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Divorce and Family pages.

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