Editorial: Adoption by Gays and Lesbians in Italy and Colombia
Italy passed its controversial civil union bill late last month after a heartbreaking decision by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to remove its expansion of adoption rights. Supporters of LGBT equality were enraged by the last-minute change to Renzi's civil union bill.
Italy lags far behind other European nations on gay family rights. The European Court of Human Rights ruled last year that Italy's policies—including adoption discrimination—constituted a breach in human rights.
But the story's not over: Less than a week later, a Rome court used existing adoption law to allow a lesbian couple to adopt each other's daughters.
The court based this, the first decision of its kind, on legislation allowing for "adoptions in special cases." The advocacy group representing the couple has said the mothers will share equal parenting rights—and that they won't, according to Reuters (emphasis ours):
Each of the partners in the case had given birth to a daughter, and the court gave them parental status regarding both children, their lawyer Francesca Quarato said in a statement.
"Now each child has a biological parent and a social parent, both with full and equal parental capacity and responsibility," she said.
“The ruling gives more limited rights than could have been given to a married couple and the girls will not legally be sisters," the president of the Rete Lenford association of gay rights lawyers said. However, they will share the same surname.
Equal or not, the law still discriminates. Gay couples hoping to adopt or have a child via surrogacy continue to face uncertainty.
* * *
Meanwhile, in Colombia, the courts ruled to expand gay adoption rights last November even though marriage equality efforts have stalled.
"A person's sexual orientation or gender are not in and of themselves indicative of a lack of moral, physical or mental suitability to adopt," said the chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Maria Victoria Calle Correa.
In a landmark ruling that eliminated a glaringly discriminatory policy, Colombia’s highest court ruled that gay individuals and couples may adopt children. In a 6-to-2 decision, the Constitutional Court found that barring gay people from adopting had unreasonably deprived children of the right to be raised by families.
The decision was the latest in a string of victories for gay activists in Colombia who have challenged discriminatory policies. The ruling will make it easier for gay singles and couples to adopt children in state foster care. It also will allow gay and lesbian partners to be legally recognized as the parent of a same-sex partner’s biological child.
Anticipating criticism from political and religious leaders, the justices wrote, “Doubts and fears about whether society is ready to accept this decision won’t be dissipated by being blind to an irrefutable reality.” The judges argued that there was no evidence that same-sex couples were unfit to be parents and that there was no compelling reason to bar them from the universe of potential adoptive families.