An Austrian lesbian couple have won a court case which allows one partner to legally become a parent to the other’s son.
This comes after an eight year campaign to prove that Austrian law discriminates against gay couples.
The application was submitted in 2005 and was initially turned down because adoption in this case was considered ‘legally impossible’. However a second application, submitted in 2007 to the European Court of Human Rights, received more serious appraisal.
Finally, in 2012 the application was pushed up to the Grand Chamber of the European court, and a hearing took place in Strasbourg, in June.
The jury found no reason to say the lesbian couple and their son did not have a ‘family life’, and found no evidence to say a child suffers from having same-sex parents.
The Grand Chamber ruled it was unconstitutional that straight couples could adopt in the same circumstances, and same-sex couples could not.
An earlier similar court case in France, Gas and Dubois v France, was unsuccessful, but in France ‘second adoption’ (adopting a partner’s child from a previous relationship) is illegal for unmarried couples, gay or straight.
Martin Christensen, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s executive board, hopes couples in other countries would benefit from the court’s ruling too.
He said: ‘This is a very significant and important victory for rainbow families in Europe. We hope 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.’
Alli Jernow, senior legal advisor at the International Commission of Jurists, said: ‘With today’s decision, the court clearly asserts that families are families, regardless of the sex of the parents, and that barriers to legal recognition and protection based on sexual orientation serve the interests of neither parents nor children.’