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Courts are sometimes better allies than elected politicians when it comes to upholding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.  A striking example is last year’ s  US Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. This month, it was the Czech Constitutional Court’s turn.

What’s the case?

Czech law provides for registered partnerships of same-sex couples. But they are excluded from adoption. Paradoxically, a partner in a non-registered same-sex relationship could adopt a child as a single person, but not as part of a couple in a registered same-sex partnership. 

Czech President Milos Zeman speaks during the Czech Parliament session in Prague, August 7, 2013. (c) 2013 Reuters

Human Rights Watch wrote to the speaker of the Czech parliament in October 2014 urging support for proposed changes to the law that would allow for joint-parent adoption. We argued that it would be in the child’s best interests for both parents in a same-sex couple to be recognized in law.  Unfortunately, parliament left the law unchanged.

So same-sex couples turned to the Constitutional Court, which ruled on June 28 to allow joint parent adoption for same-sex couples. The court said:

“… the heart of the problem lies in the fact that on one hand the Civil Code exceptionally enables adoption by a single person, but on the other hand the Act on Registered Partnership explicitly precludes that such a person lives in a registered partnership…Neither the legal acts themselves, nor the explanatory reports, provide any reasonable explanation that may have led the lawmaker to the adoption of such a legal regulation, which the Court finds illogical, irrational and in its effect discriminatory."

The Court therefore concludes that the contested legal provision, which for absolutely no reason excludes one group of people (registered partners) from the possibility of child adoption, in its effect interferes with their human dignity and breaches their right to private life.”

The ruling is not rocket science. I wonder how the members of parliament feel now that the court has done its work. In any case, thanks to LGBT couples and their allies including this time the courts, justice has been done in the Czech Republic.


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