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European Court of Human Rights: France Condemned in Lesbian Adoption Case

(Feb. 2, 2008) On January 22, 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France violated Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights by refusing to authorize a lesbian woman to adopt a child because of her sexual preference. The applicant, a nursery school teacher who has been living with another woman since 1990, applied for the authorization to adopt a child in 1998. French law allows single persons to adopt. The adoption authorization was refused by the local French authorities because "the plan to adopt reveals the lack of a paternal role model or referent capable of fostering the well-adjusted development of an adopted child" and because there was a lack of the commitment to the adoption plan on the part of the applicant's partner, "which would make it difficult for the child to find [his or her] bearings."

The applicant appealed the decision before the French administrative courts without success. The courts considered that the refusal had been based on the best needs and interest of the child. The European Court of Human Rights disagreed and found that "the reference to the applicant's homosexuality was, if not explicit, at least implicit … [and] that the applicant's avowed homosexuality on the assessment of her application has been established and was a decisive factor leading to the decision to refuse her authorization to adopt." (European Court of Human Rights, Grand Chamber Judgment, E.B. v. France, http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/portal.asp?sessionId=4894862&skin=hudoc-en&action
=request
(last visited Jan. 23, 2008)).