Thursday, 4 December 2008

Armenia signs European treaty which potentially grants adoption rights to same-sex couples

The European Convention on the Adoption of Children (revised) was prepared within the framework of the Council of Europe.

This is not binding in terms of State’s obligation to extend adoption rights to same-sex couples. However, it sends right signals, and while not necessarily a ‘breaking news’ development, certainly is a step in a right direction.

Glad that Armenian government was among the first to sign up for the treaty. Of course, this does not mean that soon we will witness officially adopted children by same-sex couples in Armenia. In fact, Armenia does not have any specific provisions for same-sex unions, and homophobia in our society is so prevalent that very few gay Armenians come out in public or before their families, relatives and friends. Things are slowly changing, but prevalent mentality is much more difficult to change and will take time, efforts and lots of education.

On the other hand, Armenian constitution does not specifically define marriage as a union between man and woman. Therefore, from Constitution’s point of view, same-sex marriage is not illegal.

This is a field which local gay rights groups can work upon to develop it further.

In any case, signing this treaty by Armenia is encouraging sign, and I commend Armenian government for that.

Not only Armenia is the first country in South Caucasus to do so, but also among the first Europe-wide too. From this point of view, this is pretty significant and welcoming development.

Strasbourg, 27.11.2008 - On the occasion of the special meeting at which Spain succeeded Sweden as the chair of the Committee of Ministers, The European Convention on the Adoption of Children (Revised) was opened for signature.

The European Convention on the Adoption of Children (Revised) (CETS 202) was signed by Armenia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom.

The aim is to take account of social and legal developments while keeping to the European Convention on Human Rights and bearing in mind that the child’s best interests must always take precedence over any other considerations.

From new provisions introduced by the convention:

· It extends [adoption rights] to heterosexual unmarried couples who have entered into a registered partnership in States which recognise that institution. It also leaves States free to extend adoptions to homosexual couples and same sex-couples living together in a stable relationship.

For Council of Europe’s Explanatory Report which accompanies the new revised European Convention on the Adoption of Children, see here

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