I do not usually write about father’s rights issues, but this story caught my eye:
Europe’s highest court on human rights will decide if a lesbian can adopt her partner’s child, in this case stripping the father of his parental rights to his son.
The case is very simple according to Gregor Puppinck of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ). “The two female partners want to oust the father and, since the law does not allow them to do so, they claim it is discriminatory,” Gregor reported in Turtle Bay and Beyond, C-FAM’s blog.
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights will hear the case X and others v. Austria on October 3. Its decision will apply to all 47 countries in the Council of Europe and cannot be appealed.
Austria’s attorney has pointed out that most European countries do not allow a child to have two mothers or two fathers. A homosexual rights attorney who brought the case argued that this is sexual discrimination.
Here is the problem: the man has been a part of his son’s life from the beginning. Since 1995, the father has paid alimony to the mother and frequently visits with his son. However, now the mother and her lesbian partner want the father stripped of his rights because the pair want to be recognized as a “family”.
According to the article, the couple give no reason for revoking the father’s parental rights. There are no allegations of abuse, neglect, drug use, or anything suspect.
This was not the first time the couple tried this:
According to the Statement of Facts compiled by the European Court of Human Rights, a District Court refused to allow the adoption in 2005 based on Austria’s Civil Code which recognizes adoption by one person replaces the natural parent of that same sex, and severs the relationship between the child and that natural parent.
A Regional Court dismissed an appeal in 2006, observing that when a child has both parents there is no need to replace one of them.
And the plot thickens:
It is unclear whether the father is aware of the court proceedings since the lesbian couple is pursuing the case anonymously. Nothing indicates the boy’s opinion. The same lawyer – Helmut Graupner, legal counsel of ILGA-Europe – represents the women and the boy.
It seems odd that the couple are pursuing the case anonymously since they are apparently out enough to want the boy to be recognized as their son. What strikes me as more troubling is that the boy has the same lawyer as the couple and the way this is being done.
The article noted that the boy will reach the age of majority soon. In other words, he will legally be an adult and could decide on his own whether to go through with the adoption. While this is just my speculation, I think the reason the couple would go about it this way is because the boy might not want to sever his relationship with his father. Under the current law, it would not matter if he is still a minor. His mother could petition the court to revoke his father’s parental rights and have her lesbian partner adopt the boy without the boy’s consent. However, once he becomes an adult, it can only happen with the boy’s consent.
I also find it curious that this issue took so long to come up. The article does not state when the mother met her partner or how long they have been together, so perhaps the relationship began sometime around the first request in 2005. If it began earlier, why did the mother continue to accept money from the father instead of trying to have his rights revoked? Why did she let him develop a relationship with the boy? Why put father and son through this if she did not want the man to be in the boy’s life?
While I do not agree with the European court’s view that a parent couple can only be heterosexual, I do hope that they do not take away this man’s parental rights based solely a lesbian couple apparently trying to make a point. If he has done something wrong, let the court decide. If not, let the boy decide if he wants to be adopted by his mother’s partner.