This chapter analyses the role of respect in personal law. Arguing that ‘respect’ means acknowledging that an entity has value in and of itself, it is maintained that if personal law is to be respectful of the individuals to whom it applies, it must recognize the value of the intimate. The law must accept a sphere of personal interaction between adults and between adults and children, which is privileged by freedom from institutional constraint and censure. It is similar to a right of privacy. It does not imply that behaviours within the sphere necessarily have value. But the sphere is privileged, not licensed to cause harm. Community values may seek to influence conduct within it, but not through denigration. The right of parents in the way they educate and bring up their children, including the exercise of corporal punishment and passing on religious beliefs, are seen as an aspect of respect for the privileged sphere rather than as more general rights.
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