In another victory for gay adoption rights in Europe, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the refusal to allow an Austrian lesbian woman to adopt her partner’s child is discriminatory.
Tuesday’s ruling concerned two Austrian women who live in a stable homosexual relationship. Austrian courts and the country’s legislation have barred the one woman from adopting the other woman’s partner’s biological child; known as second-parent adoption.
After an eight year battle to secure a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, it finally ruled that the women had been treated differently compared to un-married heterosexual couples in the same situation.
It also said that this discrimination was entirely due to the women’s sexual orientation.
The court found that “no convincing reasons had been advanced to show that such difference in treatment was necessary for the protection of the family or for the protection of the interests of the child”.
The court further confirmed that the relationship between the applicants amounted to “family life”.
“This is a very significant and important victory for rainbow families in Europe,” commented Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board. “We hope that this judgment will pave the way towards the removal of the remaining legal barriers for these families in Europe.
“The lack of recognition and the inability for partners in same-sex families to establish legal links to their children is not only discriminatory and creates a number of legal uncertainties, but also has a profound and detrimental impact on the everyday lives of these families and the wellbeing of the children in those families,” said Christensen.
Also on Tuesday, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a partner in a same-sex civil partnership should be allowed to adopt their partner’s adopted child.
According to ILGA-Europe, second-parent adoption is currently possible in 11 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Great Britain. New legislation that would allow it is planned in France, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
The organisation noted that as a result of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment, it would follow that the legislation of Austria, Andorra, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein, Portugal and Romania should be amended to allow same-sex couples to apply for second-parent adoption, because these countries already permit unmarried heterosexual couples to do so.