Monday, September 17, 2012

United Nations document omits LGBT parents

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a publication, Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Human Rights Law. Sounds good, right?  Well not if you're looking for support for LGBT parents and their children.  The publication is completely silent on that.

This is a puzzle.  It's not like there is no law.  I wrote extensively about the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights vindicating the rights of Karen Atala and her children.  The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of a gay father deprived of custody based on his sexual orientation in Salgueiro da Silva Mouta v. Portugal.  It also ruled that France could not ban adoption by a gay or lesbian person in E.B. v. France.  There are numerous law reviews articles on international human rights law and LGBT parents, as well as a chapter on parenting in a casebook, Sexual Orientation, Gender Indentity, and Justice: A Comparative Law Casebook, available on line.

The UN report does have a chapter about discrimination (and says it is bad), but nothing in that chapter mentions discrimination in adoption or access to assited reproduction or child custody.  The report lists some areas of concern when it comes to discrimination, naming employment, health, and education.  There is mention that States need not allow same-sex marriage under international human rights law but that same-sex couples should prevail on anti-discrimination grounds when it comes to such matters as pensions, inheritance, and other partner circumstances.  This makes it especially odd that the report does not mention LGBT parenting when international human rights law definitely does contain a nondiscrimination principle in that area.

I don't even have a guess about the reasoning behind this omission.  But it troubles me greatly.  (Thanks to Shannon Minter for bringing this to my attention.)

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