We helped a lesbian couple get a fair decision

This autumn we received a request for help from a lesbian couple, who were left alone with a big problem. The two women had registered their partnership and raised a child together since the childs birth. But when trying to go through with in-family adoption, they were met with bias – although the family assessment was clearly positive, Tartu County Court made a negative decision. We helped the couple to appeal it.

The Estonian Registered Partnership Act allows in-family adoption based on the same rules that apply to a heterosexual couple. A family assessment carried out by a child protection specialist at the Social Insurance Board fully supported the adoption – the family is financially stable and otherwise responsible. The negative decision was made by a judge who had previously ruled similarly in a similar case, referring to a study which claims negative effects on children growing up in families with same-sex parents. The study has been regarded as misleading due to its flawed methodology. 

Right to family life is a human right, and in family matters, the best interests of the child must always be a primary consideration. Adoption provides confidence for the child as well as the parents, as it provides the opportunity for both parents to make decisions and take actions related to the child, such as going to a doctor, giving signatures for a child (applying for kindergartens, hobby and sports groups contracts etc.) and travel abroad. As the judgment was clearly biased, EHRC and our good partners, lawyers Kalle-Kaspar Sepper and Tõnis Loorits (law firm Sirel & Partners) appealed the decision. The Circuit Court agreed with our argumentation and annulled the judgment of the county court.

For now, this couple’s problem has been solved. However, we constantly receive requests from other people whose rights have been violated and who need help. We can do it with the support of our good partners and donors. Support us with your donation so that we can continue strategic litigation and make a difference.

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It is important to protect everyone’s human rights, because it helps to keep stability and peace in the society. There are many challenges for protection of human rights in Estonia: intolerance has really come out of the closet. Bad things happen when good people are too passive, but together we can make a change.

Estonian Human Rights Centre is the competent, accountable and impactful independent human rights organisation in Estonia. Your recurring or one-time donation helps to stand up for human rights everywhere: in courts, in the media, in schools, in the workplace, on the streets and in governmental venues.

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