The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that gay men and women are eligible to adopt children.
The case centred on Ms. E.B. – a 45-year-old French lesbian nursery school teacher – who has been living with another woman since 1990. She applied for approval as a possible adoptive parent in February 1998, but her application was rejected because of her sexual orientation.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights handed down its 10-7 judgement in the case on Tuesday, saying that exclusion of individuals from the application process for adoption of children simply because of their sexual orientation is discriminatory and is in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Ms. E.B. was awarded 10,000 euros (EUR) in damages and EUR 14,528 for costs and expenses.
“We welcome today’s judgement of the European Court of Human Rights,” said Patricia Prendiville, executive director of ILGA-Europe. “This is a significant change in the Court’s approach towards and interpretation of the rights of LGBT people under the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Until Tuesday, France permitted administrative officials to exclude openly lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from applying to adopt children. The European Court of Human Rights has decided that such a practice is discriminatory and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
Prendiville went on to point out that no one has the automatic right to adopt a child.
“What the European Court of Human Rights said today is that European countries can no longer justify exclusion of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from applying for a child adoption. The Court has established the principle that ILGA-Europe has long fought for – each individual should be treated equally on the basis of their individual merits as a potential parent when applying to adopt a child.
“The sexual orientation of the applicant is irrelevant and cannot be used to exclude them from the possibility of adopting a child,” she said.