On 20 March the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that parental sexual orientation is not a factor in child custody cases and that Chile had violated Karen Atala’s rights to equality, non-discrimination and privacy when the Supreme Court of Chile removed custody of her three daughters from her because she had begun a relationship with another woman.
In its first sexual orientation case, the Court held that sexual orientation is a protected ground, included under “other social condition” in Article 1 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Court further stated that the best interests of the child test could not be used as a pretext for prohibited discrimination in custody cases.
The Court also found that the Supreme Court of Chile’s reliance on stereotypes and prejudices was a violation of the State’s obligation to protect rights. Finally, the Court stated that the American Convention did not protect a specific form of traditional family and that states must recognize diverse family structures.
The International Commission of Jurists was called by the Inter-American Commission as an expert and submitted written and oral testimony on the role of parental sexual orientation as a factor in child custody cases.