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AUSTRIA: Amnesty calls for reform to back up landmark adoption victory for Lesbian couple

Amnesty International demanded the Austrian government ditch its homophobic adoption laws, following a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights earlier today.

The Court ruled that the Austrian authorities discriminated against a woman by refusing to consider her request to adopt her female partner’s biological child.

John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, said:

“This welcome decision must prompt the Austrian government to shake up its thinking and its laws.

“Everyone has the right to marry and found a family. 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.”

The Court ruled that the couple in “X and others v Austria” 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, whereas, for example, a man not married to his female partner can adopt her biological Children's rights.

The Austrian government argued before the Court that its laws were designed to uphold a traditional model of the family.

But 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. Six of them, including the UK, allow it for same-sex as well as different-sex couples (Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain are the other five) and four allow it only for unmarried heterosexual couples (Portugal, Romania, Russia, Ukraine).

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