Saturday, January 26, 2008

Path to adoption eased in Europe

By a 10-7 margin the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that France's refusal to permit a lesbian from adopting a child violated Europe's Convention on Human Rights.
E.B., a teacher in France's national nursery school system, had been in a longterm relationship with R, a psychologist. After the Conseil d'Etat refused to grant E.B. an authorization to adopt -- France reasoned that the child would suffer from lack of a "paternal referent," E.B. sought relief from the ECHR.
The Court ordered France to pay E.B. 10,000€ plus 14,528€ for court costs, finding violations of 2 provisions of the Convention, which is binding on all 47 member states of the Council of Europe:
► Article 8, freedom of interference with private and family life. On this, the Court wrote in ¶ 43 (citations omitted) that it had

previously held that the notion of “private life” ... is a broad concept which encompasses, inter alia, the right to establish and develop relationships with other human beings, the right to “personal development” or the right to self-determination as such. It encompasses elements such as names, gender identification, sexual orientation and sexual life, which fall within the personal sphere..., and the right to respect for both the decisions to have and not to have a child.

► Article 14, freedom from discrimination -- this was held to apply even though the provision does not explicitly protect individuals from discrimination on account of sexual orientation.
Voting with the majority in favor of E.B. were Judges: Nicolas Bratza, ECHR Vice President (Britain); Peer Lorenzen (Denmark); Françoise Tulkens (Belgium); Ireneu Cabral Barreto (Portugal); Elisabeth Steiner (Austria); Elisabet Fura-Sandström (Sweden); Egbert Myjer (Netherlands); Dragoljub Popović (Serbia); and Sverre Erik Jebens (Norway). Dissenting were Judges: Jean-Paul Costa, ECHR President (France); Boštjan Zupančič (Slovenia); Loukis Loucaides (Cyprus); Antonella Mularoni (San Marino); Riza Türmen (Turkey); Mindia Ugrekhelidze (Georgia); and Danutė Jočienė (Lithuania).
Even as a spokesman for France's Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents (logo on balloon in photo) rejoiced that "'homosexuals would no longer have to hide themselves in order to adopt,'" gays and lesbians in Belgium warned against premature celebration. Le Monde reported: "Their reservations can be explained by a stark observation: in their country, where homosexuals have not only the right to marry but also, since May 2006, to adopt, not one couple has managed to open a file for international adoption. Belgium's 2006 law, they said, is an "'empty vessel.'"

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