Judgement: the State has to enter adoption of a child by a registered partnership family in the population register

In the middle of February, Tallinn Administrative Court made a judgement with which it obligated the Ministry of the Interior to enter the adoption of a child by a registered partnership family in the population register.

A family that consists of two women and their mutually adopted children turned to the court with the support of the Estonian Human Rights Centre and Sirel & Partners Law Firm last August. The story of the family was similar to that of several other registered partnership families: a registered partnership contract was entered into with a beloved person, the adoption of each other’s children was applied for, which was approved by the court, but after which it was discovered that the vital statistics office refused to enter the fact of adoption in the population register.

The failure by the State to make an entry was substantiated by the lack of implementing legislation of the Registered Partnership Act and the fact that the population register does not contain any cells that would permit making an entry on two mothers or two fathers therein. “This gave rise to a regrettable situation where, due to the names of cells in one database, some lawfully adopted children were treated as unequal ones, compared to the others,” said Kalle-Kaspar Sepper, the Attorney-at-Law of Sirel & Partners Law Firm, which represented the family in court.

The Estonian Human Rights Centre with the support of donations of people of Estonia helped the family turn to the court. “The family turned to the court to adjudicate injustice in respect of them, but, in addition, we hoped that it could also be of help to other registered partnership couples in the future,” said Kelly Grossthal, an expert on equal treatment in the Human Rights Centre.

In practice, the failure to make the register entry meant for registered partnership families that, in order to perform acts related to children, a court ruling of several pages had to be taken along, hoping that it would be taken into consideration in various authorities.

On 9 February, Tallinn Administrative Court decided to confer justice in the dispute on the registered partnership couple and obligated the Ministry of the Interior to make the register entry. The court held that a situation where a family has to certify filiation relationship with a court ruling that should not reach any unauthorised persons at all, considering the confidentiality of adoption, is not an alternative to an entry in the population register. To date, the register entry has been made and, to the knowledge of the Estonian Human Rights Centre, the Ministry does not plan to contest the judgement.

The court ordered the payment of 1,695 euros of procedural expenses for the benefit of the registered partnership family. The family has made a decision to donate this money to the Estonian Human Rights Centre in order to help others stand up for their fundamental rights in the future.

According to the representative of the Human Rights Centre, this was only one example of the confusion that registered partnership couples have faced and the reason for which, the lack of implementing legislation and litigation, does not substitute for the lack thereof. “However, problems of registered partnership families are resolved in their entirety only by as fast passage as possible of implementing legislation of the Registered Partnership Act,” added Grossthal.

The Estonian Human Rights Centre is an independent human rights NGO that aims to create Estonia that respects the human rights of every human being.