Same-sex couples in legal unions have found a new supporter in Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb. Kocáb plans to present the cabinet with a proposal to allow couples in registered partnerships to adopt children. Experts say, however, that in practice nothing will change.
Legally recognized registered partnerships come with several disadvantages. Those who enter such a union are not allowed to adopt children. This has been the case in the Czech Republic for three years now, ever since the law creating registered partnership was endorsed.
“A lasting union prevents each partner from adopting a child,” states the law approved by the previous parliament. “The law on registered partnerships thus explicitly bans each partner from adopting a child,” said Jan Wintr, a lawyer and member of governmental working group for sexual minorities.
Green light for registered-partnership adoptions
Experts’ recommendations ultimately reached the minister. The Government Council for Human Rights put together a proposal suggesting the controversial paragraph be removed from the law since it is in discord with the Constitution. “According to the family law, anyone can adopt a child regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Entering a registered partnership, however, automatically blocks adoption,” the governmental report says. “That paragraph represents discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is not allowed.”
The governmental working group for sexual minorities therefore proposes the Interior Ministry amends the law. “The proposal has already passed through the stage of comments and now it will be considered by the Government Legislative Council. Unless something extraordinary happens, their decision should be published before the elections,” said Petr Koubek, the minister’s adviser. The amendment itself will be in the hands of the government that forms after the October elections.
Whether or not the paragraph disappears from the law, it is clear even now that not much will change in practice. “In practice, it is the court that decides on the adoption. Even when the paragraph is withdrawn from the law on registered partnerships, it will be up to the authorities and courts which adoption they approve,” Wintr said.
Nevertheless, the mutual adoption will remain unavailable to legal union couples. Mutual adoptions will be only available to heterosexual married couples. “The Czech law would thus follow the rule that a child cannot have two parents of the same sex,” Wintr said.
Still, he says that it is quite common that a child is brought up by homosexual couples. He point out a study conducted by Bamberg university according to which some 16,000 children live in so-called rainbow families in Germany. “I am not aware of a similar study in the Czech Republic but I am sure that the upbringing of children, especially by lesbian couples, is not an unusual thing in the country.”