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Hearing on French gay adoption refusal

A European Court of Human Rights hearing takes place today on French authorities’ refusal of a woman’s application to adopt her female partner’s child.

The hearing in the case of Gas and Dubois v. France (Application no. 25951/07) started at 9h (CET) and will be broadcast from 14h30 on the court’s website (www.echr.coe.int).

The applicants, Valérie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, are French nationals who were born in 1961 and 1965 respectively and live in Clamart (France).

They have been cohabiting since 1989. In September 2000 Nathalie Dubois gave birth in France to a daughter, A., who had been conceived in Belgium by means of medically-assisted procreation with an anonymous donor.

The child does not have an established parental tie with the father, in accordance with Belgian law. She has lived all her life in the applicants’ shared home. In April 2002 Ms Gas and Ms Dubois entered into a civil partnership agreement.

On 3 March 2006 Ms Gas applied to Nanterre tribunal de grande instance for a simple adoption (1) order in respect of her partner’s daughter; her partner had given her express consent before a notary.

On 4 July 2006 the court observed that the legal conditions for the adoption had been met and that it had been demonstrated that Ms Gas and Ms Dubois were actively and jointly involved in the child’s upbringing, caring for and displaying affection towards her.

However, it refused the application on the grounds that the adoption would have legal implications which ran counter to the applicants’ intentions and the child’s best interests by transferring parental authority to the adoptive parent and hence depriving the biological mother of her rights in respect of the child.

The Versailles Court of Appeal upheld the refusal, taking the view that the legal consequences of the requested order were not compatible with the child’s best interests. The applicants appealed on points of law but did not pursue the appeal to its conclusion, believing that it had no prospect of success in view of the recent case-law of the Court of Cassation on the subject.

The applicants complain of the refusal of Ms Gas’s application to adopt Ms Dubois’ child. They maintain that this decision had infringed their right to respect for their private and family life and was discriminatory, in breach of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) taken in conjunction with Article 8 (right to respect for their private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Procedure

The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 15 June 2007. It was communicated to the French authorities on 19 May 2009 and declared admissible on 31 August 2010.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe), the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and the Network of European LGBT Families Associations (NELFA) have been authorised to intervene – jointly – as third parties in the proceedings (Article 36 of the Convention). On 7 February 2011, they were authorised to take part in the hearing.

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