The Czech government has approved a proposed amendment to the law which would enable gay and lesbian couples to adopt their partner’s biological child. The proposal was supported by the ruling Social Democrats and ANO, but opposed by the Christian Democrats who see it as a threat to the traditional family model. I asked one of the authors of the draft, Deputy Minister for Human Rights Martina Štěpánková, to explain its significance.
“It will have a very good, practical impact on the lives of these families because now the second parent takes care of the child, or children, but has no legal relationship to them. This brings a lot of problems in everyday life, but it can also mean a very serious problem if the biological parent should die. This amendment would mean that the second parent would have the same rights and duties to the child as its biological parent.”
How many children does this concern in the Czech Republic?
“We do not have an exact number but our estimate is that there are now about one thousand children living in same-sex families.”
Efforts to push through such an amendment have repeatedly failed in the past. Why is that? Is the society not ready for such a step?
“I think the society is ready, because according to the outcome of a poll 61 percent of Czechs would support this type of adoption. The problem is that in the Czech Republic there is no strong support for this bill from any one party and you have to address every member of Parliament separately to drum up support for the bill.”
What are its critics most concerned about?
“Critics say the bill is not necessary, because you have other legal tools that would solve the problem and they also say it goes against the traditional family model. So those are two arguments most frequently used.”
“To the first argument we say that legal contracts resolving everyday situations are not the same as a legal relationship established by adoption and to the second that we do not think it will have a negative influence on the traditional family – quite the opposite, because obviously same sex families want to take responsibility for the child and I think responsibility is what the “traditional family” is about.”
What are the chances of the bill winning approval this time round?
“I believe there is a chance, because there is support for the proposal across the political spectrum, not from any given party, but from individual MPs across the board. So I believe that the bill will be approved.”