Tuesday, February 19, 2013

European and German high courts rule same-sex couples are regular parents

Today two high courts in Europe ruled in favour of same-sex couples adopting children. Both judgments make clear that lesbian and gay couples provide children the same safety and stability as heterosexual couples do.


In the first decision, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rightsconsidered the case X and others v. Austria. The court deemed that

the Austrian Government had not provided any evidence to show that it would be detrimental to a child to be brought up by a same-sex couple or to have two mothers and two fathers for legal purposes.

The court’s highest chamber ruled that since unmarried different-sex couples could adopt one another’s children under Austrian law, there was no valid reason to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting one another’s children.

In today’s second decision, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court came to the same conclusion, decreeing that successive adoption ought to be open to same-sex couples under the same conditions as different-sex couples (although joint adoption remains unavailable).

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, commented: “These timely rulings confirm what we have known for decades: LGBT people already live in families and have children, and are equally good families in comparison with heterosexual couples. Our children are loved, and grow up in stable families.”

“They do, however, remain victims of society’s intolerance towards their parents. Today’s court cases will lead to a better life for families with lesbian and gay parents in Germany, Austria, and the rest of Europe.”

In recent days, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ had announced Turkish diplomats would be asked to retrieve Turkish children placed in same-sex families in European countries.

In reaction, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP declared: “These rulings should help put Mr Bozdağ’s mind to rest: gay and lesbian families are just the same as any other families.”

“Same-sex couples have been legal parents for the past 12 years in the Netherlands, and of course in twelve years there has been no conclusive evidence that this harmed children in any way. I hope more EU countries will now follow suit.”


Germany's highest court has extended gay adoption laws to bring them in line with rules that apply to heterosexual couples. Judges ruled that existing laws were discriminatory.

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe overturned a ban on Tuesday on so-called "successive adoptions" for gay couples in civil partnerships.

Under the ruling, if one partner has adopted a child, the other partner now has the right to become the adoptive mother or father of that child as well. Until now, they could only adopt their partner's biological child.

This aspect of adoption law had previously only applied to heterosexual couples; a distinction which the Karlsruhe court said went against Germany's basic law and was therefore unconstitutional.

It ruled that same-sex couples could provide for a child as well as couples in a traditional marriage.

"In marriage as in a civil partnership, adoption provides the child with legal security and material advantages in terms of care, support and inheritance law," presiding judge Ferdinand Kirchof told the court.

The ruling followed a legal challenge from a woman who was forbidden from adopting a Bulgarian-born child whom her female partner had adopted.

Tuesday's decision does not alter legislation, however, which forbids same-sex couples jointly adopting a child. They may still only adopt the same child on an individual basis.

Germany legalized civil partnerships in 2001, but in spite of recent rulings in Britain and France, has not yet moved to allow same-sex marriage.

ccp/kms (dp
a, AFPD)


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