Czech court grants second parent adoption to same-sex parents
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In a groundbreaking decision, the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic upheld a gay couple's right to be legally recognized as parents of their children.
The July 24 ruling by the three-judge panel â€" Katerina Simackova, Tomas Lichovnik, and David Uhlir â€" is protected by the Czech Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.
The decision overturns the Czech Supreme Court's earlier decision that denied a petition to recognize the second parent because he was gay.
The court declared that the family of Jirka Ambroz, 41, and his husband, Rasmus Dixen Ambroz, 41, which was created outside of the Czech Republic through surrogacy, was protected by the Constitution of the Czech Republic, wrote Petr Kalla, the family's attorney, in an email interview with the Bay Area Reporter.
Kalla, 40, a gay man, has been representing a number of LGBT family law cases in the country.
This was the first time a higher court legally recognized a gay family. Previously, only the lower courts recognized international adoption by gay families, wrote Kalla.
In an earlier decision, the supreme court ruled in favor of Jirka Ambroz, a Czech citizen, recognizing him as the father of his 4-year-old son, Lukas Dixen Ambroz. The court granted Lukas Dixen Ambroz dual Czech and U.S. citizenship.
The case of the boy's 5-year-old sister, Olivia Dixen Ambroz, is still pending at the supreme court, according to a joint news release from Czech LGBT organizations Prague Pride, PROUD, and We Are Fair following the court's decision Monday.
The constitutional court declared that the second father, Rasmus Dixen Ambroz, a Danish citizen, was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation, something the court recognized couldn't be changed, and that family, who are legally connected, weren't being respected or safeguarded, nor was the children's best interest being served.
The judges granted the two gay men, who are married and live in Los Angeles, to have both of their names appear on their children's birth certificate and to respect and safeguard the family in accordance to the law.
"The constitutional court said that the authorities and courts cannot hide behind abstract norms and principals. In all cases in which children are affected the best interest of the children must be the first and most important imperative," wrote Kalla.
The court also recognized the makeup of families is changing, he added.
"The constitutional court does not see the traditional model of family as the only possible family model," wrote Kalla. "Also, other types of families deserve constitutional protection."
The ruling complies with the European Court of Human Rights' "protection of family life," the court noted.
The case will return to the supreme court to debate recognizing second parent adoption for a second time. Only the supreme court can open the second parent registration in the Czech population register and the birth certificate. However, the court is bound by the constitutional court, according to experts.
Kalla told the B.A.R. that the family, who were traveling to the Czech Republic Tuesday, is pleased with the decision.
"We are happy that the constitutional court decided in our favor. We hope that we will soon be able to obtain Czech birth certificates for our children, and both our names will be on them, as parents," said Jirka Ambroz in a news release. "We will be less afraid of all the complications that might occur during our visits to my family in the Czech Republic, or in case we decide to move to the Czech Republic."
He was happy with the court's decision because it will apply to other Czech same-sex parents who, like the Ambrozes, were filled with uncertainty of the security of their family.
"These families face many fears and problems in their daily live[s]," wrote Kalla. "All these families can now apply for Czech birth certificates with both fathers registered. I hope that this decision can bring more legal certainty in the lives of these families."
The ruling, however, only applies to same-sex families and surrogacy procedures that originated abroad, not within the Czech Republic, according to the release.
In 2012, the Ambrozes challenged the Czech Republic laws that didn't allow for both parents' names to appear on the birth certificates of their now 4-year-old son, who was born in California with the assistance of a surrogate.
Experts anticipate that Monday's decision will influence the court's decision regarding the boy's older sister.
"We think that the child's best interest is part of the public order in the Czech Republic," Kalla said in the news release. "And if we weigh the interest for the child to not have two people of the same sex written as parents in its birth certificate against the interest to legally recognize the parenthood of the people who took care of the child as parents since its birth, and are its parents according the laws of another country, then we are of the opinion that the child's best interest should prevail."
Organizers of Prague Pride criticized the constitutional court's decision, stating that the judgment was "spinelessly ignoring the needs and legal certainties" of Czech children born through surrogacy being raised in same-sex and heterosexual families.
Surrogacy exists in the country, but it's not regulated by specific laws, according to the release.
Kalla recognized that the decision was both groundbreaking and only a "small step forward," he wrote.
"The full protection of the LGBTQI families in the Czech Republic can be reached only if we will have marriage for all," he wrote.
Civil partnerships became law in 2006, but didn't allow for same-sex or second parent adoptions.
In 2016, LGBT Czech activists launched a marriage equality campaign.
German president signs marriage bill
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed the country's same-sex marriage bill July 20, making marriage equality official.
The European country's lower house of parliament passed the bill last month.
LGBT couples will be able to wed starting October 1 at the earliest, reported Gay Star News.
"Marriage is a question of love and responsibility and not of gender," Katarina Barley, the minister for families, told ABC News.
Barley's center-left party pushed for legalizing same-sex marriage.
"Marriage for everyone makes Germany a more modern country," she added.
Got international LGBT news tips? Contact Heather Cassell at firstname.lastname@example.org.