Same sex couples win court battle over child adoption discrimination

Photo: Emily Walker, CC BY-SA 2.0

In a significant ruling on Tuesday, the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court overturned a law which prevented individual gays and lesbians living in registered partnership from adopting children. The judge argued that such a ban was discriminatory, since gays and lesbians not living in such an official partnership are allowed to do so. However, the ruling does not allow same-sex partners to adopt children as a couple.

Photo: Emily Walker,  CC BY-SA 2.0
Gays and lesbians in the Czech Republic can live in an officially registered partnership since 2016, when the Czech parliament changed the law. But while it granted the partners similar rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples, such as rights to inheritance, it did not allow them to adopt children. That now has changed with Tuesday’s ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Adéla Horáková, a lawyer for PROUD, a Czech initiative promoting the rights of homosexuals, says the ruling is a small step ahead, but stresses that there are still many further moves to take:

“It is something that was almost inevitable from the beginning of adoption of this provision, because it is clearly unconstitutional and illogical. There are many other inequalities given by law for same sex couples as parents or just as couples. One of them being the fact that they cannot get married, another can be that they cannot adopt jointly a child or that a partner may not adopt biological child of his or her partner, so called second parent adoption.”

The decision of the Constitutional Court is essential not only for some 1,800 gays and lesbians living in registered partnership, but also for those who might have postponed the registration due to the ban on adoption. Adéla Horáková says it is difficult to say how many people will actually take advantage of the ruling:

Photo: Nathan Rupert,  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“It is hard to estimate how many gays and lesbians change their opinion or will feel the impulse to apply for adoption. We hope the more the better so that we can see more same sex parents adopting children and show the society they are just as capable and just as loving parents as anybody else.”

In just a few weeks’ time, the Czech government is due to vote on an amendment that would also allow the so-called second-parent adoption, granting the non-biological partner the same legal rights to the child. Adéla Horáková says the legislation has the support of a large group of MPs and believes it is likely to pass, hopefully paving the way for approving same-sex marriage in the future:

“The debate has not really been that open so it is hard to say what are the political views and where the MPS stand. But we are hoping they will join the ranks and follow in the footsteps of other progressive countries which allow equal marriage, such as US, Great Britain, Belgium and other countries.”