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Court victory shows need for adoption reform: Amnesty
A European Court of Human Rights ruling that Austria discriminated against a woman by refusing to consider her request to adopt her female partner’s biological child, must be followed by legal reform Amnesty International said today.
“This welcome decision must prompt the Austrian government to shake up its thinking and its laws,” Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen said.
The court ruled that the couple had been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, as heterosexual couples were not subjected to the same restrictions in Austria.
The case centred around Austrian laws that have led courts to specifically exclude requests from people wanting to adopt their same-sex partner’s child despite the fact that a man not married to his female partner can adopt her biological children.
The Austrian government argued that its laws were designed to uphold a traditional model of the family.
In its majority ruling, the court said “there is not just one way or one choice when it comes to leading one’s family or private life”, and noted that the Austrian government had failed to provide any evidence or even argument to show that an LGBTI couple could not adequately provide for a child’s needs.
Ten other Council of Europe member states allow for second-parent adoption for unmarried couples, according to Amnesty. Six of them allow it for same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples (Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, the UK) and four allow it only for unmarried heterosexual couples (Portugal, Romania, Russia, Ukraine).
“Everyone has the right to marry and found a family,” Dalhuisen said.
Some European governments need to wake up to the fact that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people should not be prevented from marrying and adopting, and that the march of law in Europe is inevitably on the side of social progress.”