X. and Others v Austria

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has issued an important judgment in respect of a complaint about discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in step-parent adoption. In X. and Others v Austria the applicants, a female same-sex couple and the biological child of one of the partners, complained that the exclusion of a same-sex partner from adopting the biological child of their partner (a legal provision available to opposite sex couples, both married and unmarried) constituted discrimination contrary to Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Court held:

by a majority (10 to 7), that there had been a violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention on account of the difference in treatment of the applicants in comparison with unmarried different-sex couples in which one partner wished to adopt the other partner’s child;

unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 14 taken in conjunction with Article 8 when the applicants’ situation was compared with that of a married couple in which one spouse wished to adopt the other spouse’s child.

I will be exploring the implications of this judgment on the ECHR Blog in the next few days.

Dr. Loveday Hodson, an expert in the ECHR and family law, will provide a critical analysis here soon.

The Court's press release can be found here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/fra-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4264492-5083115

The full judgment can be read here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-116735