Government minister calls for debate on adoption by gay couples

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The cabinet minister responsible for minorities and human rights, Dzamila Stehlikova, has called for a debate aimed at allowing gay couples to adopt children. In an interview for an internet news server on Monday, the Green Party minister said it would be the right step considering the fact that around 20,000 children are being brought up in institutions in the Czech Republic.

In July 2006, the Czech Republic became the first country in Central and Eastern Europe to grant homosexuals the right to enter into registered partnerships. By the end of the year, well over 200 couples had used the opportunity. The law however does not include the right for gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. Is now the time to start a discussion on the topic? - a question for Tereza Kodickova, a spokesperson for the homosexual rights group, the Gay and Lesbian League.

"Well, given the fact that the minister has already made the statement, I think the debate has been launched, the time being right or not. The community, I think, is potentially interested because there are quite a few lesbian couples who haven't yet registered because their main motivation to enter into a registered partnership is to raise children. On the other hand, we, as the Gay and Lesbian League, are waiting to hear from the community what their priorities are as to the changes in the current registered partnership legislation."

It appears that property rights within registered partnerships are a definite priority for the gay community at the moment. Parental rights are also a pressing issue - but not concerning the adoption of children in institutional care that Minister Stehlikova spoke about.

"People generally tend to think that to adopt a child means to adopt somebody else's child. But currently there is no legal relationship between the child and the non-biological parent who is actually already raising the child. So what we need is adoption by the non-biological parent who is currently raising the child. I suppose that Minister Stehlikova would wish this to become generally known that at this point it is not about adopting strange children, so to say, but adopting a child that is already being raised by the couple."

A new poll by the RCA agency suggests that 42 percent of Czechs oppose the adoption of children by gay couples while 39 percent are in favour.