MADRE News

Choose a news category:

LGBT Rights Upheld in Historic Inter-American Court Ruling

Posted on: Thursday, March 22, 2012

Keywords: Sexual Rights, Latin America and Caribbean, Human Rights Advocacy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Stephanie Küng, MADRE (212) 627-0444, media@madre.org;
Roberta Sklar, IGLHRC (917) 704-6358, rsklar@iglhrc.org

LGBT Rights Upheld in Historic Inter-American Court Ruling


March 22, 2012—New York, NY—On Tuesday, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Government of Chile for its 2003 Supreme Court ruling which stripped Karen Atala, a lesbian mother and judge, of custody of her three daughters on the basis of her sexual orientation. The 2003 ruling determined that if her daughters remained in her custody, they would be in a “situation of risk” due to their “unique family.” This is the first time the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ever heard a case specifically regarding sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Court’s landmark ruling found that Chile not only violated Atala’s right to equality and non-discrimination but affirms for the first time in its history that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories and that such discrimination violates international law. It represents a historic victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in Chile and around the world.

MADRE, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law co-authored a brief for the Court, arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity should be found to be a protected class under the American Convention on Human Rights as held under international law. Attorneys from Morrison and Foerster focused on the custody issue at hand, arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity not be a factor in custody determinations. The brief was joined by 13 other organizations. This week’s ruling upholds both arguments.

Lisa Davis, Human Rights Advocacy Director at MADRE and Clinical Professor for Law for the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law School said today, “The Court’s ruling is a milestone victory for human rights advocates the world over. It sets a precedent in international law that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a human rights violation—one that we hope will help defend the rights of LGBT persons wherever these rights are under attack.”

“Though Karen Atala and her daughters can never regain the time they have lost together because of the destructive impact of homophobia, the Inter-American Court has vindicated the legitimacy of their family,” said Jessica Stern, Director of Programs at IGLHRC.  “The Court has set a transformative precedent to which every signatory to the Inter-American Convention – 24 countries throughout the Americas – is bound.  Based on both American regional standards and international jurisprudence, the Court has ruled that LGBT people must live free from discrimination, whether as parents or in any other aspect of their lives.”

BACKGROUND

  • To read the Amicus Brief submitted to the Inter-American Court, in English, and see its full list of organizational signatories, click here. (Disponible en español también)
  • To read the groups’ 2006 Amicus Brief in English to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, click here.  
  • For analysis and history of the case of Karen Atala, see a blog by Paula Ettelbrick from 2010 here and a blog by Jessica Stern from 2011 here.  

Available for interview:

Lisa Davis, Esq. (MADRE and the IWHR Clinic at CUNY School of Law) was a co-author of the Amicus Brief. She is the Human Rights Advocacy Director at MADRE and Clinical Professor for Law for the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic at CUNY Law School. 
(Contact: Stephanie Küng 212-627-0444)

Jessica Stern (IGLHRC) was a co-author of the Amicus Brief.  She is the Director of Programs at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). 
(Contact: Roberta Sklar 917-704-6358)


« Back to "Press Room" Next Article »



Article Tools
Increase Font Decrease Font Reset Font Print Page Email Page


Archives

"Press Room" Home November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001

Contact

Kat Noel, Website & Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444
EMAIL: media@madre.org

To sign up to receive MADRE media alerts, click here.

Bring MADRE to You

MADRE & Our Partners Make News