Hungary: Ombuds finds rejection of lesbian woman’s application to adopt unlawful

A recently published report of the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights found that the Hungarian authorities’ decision to reject the application of a woman living with her same-sex partner to adopt a 16-month-old Roma girl infringed on the child’s right to protection and care, and amounted to unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The story of the lesbian couple from the Southern Hungarian city of Pécs had a positive start: Adrienn and Szilvia had been living together for five years when they decided to become parents via adoption. Since Hungarian legislation does not allow joint adoption for same-sex couples, they decided that Adrienn will legally apply to adopt. From the beginning of the procedure they were very open about their relationship, and the psychological assessment found that they are particularly suitable to become parents.

In a few months’ time they were offered a child: Natália, a 16-month-old girl of Roma origin. The couple was getting acquainted with the child for months, and in April 2016  they took care of her during daytime for three weeks. The little girl soon developed a bond towards her new mothers. One day, however, the child protection service called them and said: due to an intervention from “above” the adoption procedure had to be stopped. The decision disrupted the life of the child: she did not eat properly, lost weight, her speaking skills regressed, was constantly crying, became shy with strangers, so she had to be taken to a child psychologist and an expert on early child development.

With the help of the legal aid service of Háttér Society, Adrienn first appealed the authorities’ decision, and after it was rejected, she turned to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights. The Commissioner’s investigation lasted for over a year, and concluded with a report finding that several fundamental rights were infringed in the procedure, such as the right of the child to protection and care and the right to fair procedure, and as a whole the procedure amounted to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Commissioner emphasized that “a person wishing to adopt has no right to adopt a particular child, but s/he does have the right to equal treatment and equality before the law in the procedure.” The report makes reference to the E. B. v. France judgment of the European Court of Human Rights that laid down that sexual orientation should not be a factor in adoption decisions. Read more via Háttér Society