France: Court rejects lesbian couple joint parent recognition human rights challenge

Lesbian mothers of two children, born through medically assisted reproduction, who wanted to be recognised legally as jointly-responsible parents, have lost their human rights battle against France.

The European Court of Human Rights agreed with French authorities and ruled that the refusal to grant a delegation of parental responsibility within a female couple “did not disclose any difference of treatment on grounds of sexual orientation.”

In its 1 March decision in the case of Bonnaud and Lecoq v. France (application no. 6190/11) the court has unanimously declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.

The case, brought by Francine Bonnaud and Patricia Lecoq, concerned an application for joint exercise of parental responsibility made by the women.

On 11 December 2008 the Court of Appeal overturned a December 2007 decision by a family-affairs judge, which ruled that the women should exercise joint parental responsibility in respect of the two children and rejected the applicants’ requests.

The French court concluded that the applicants had not established why the specific circumstances or the children’s best interests should require each partner to delegate parental responsibility for her own child to the other partner, in order for them to exercise responsibility jointly. An appeal on points of law by the applicants was dismissed by the Court of Cassation on 8 July 2010.

In its judgement, the European court considered that the assessment made by the Court of Appeal and upheld by the Court of Cassation, according to which the criteria for mutual delegation of parental responsibility between Bonnaud and Lecoq were not satisfied, did not disclose a difference in treatment based on their sexual orientation.


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