Supreme court OKs stepchild adoption (3)

Precedent-setting ruling in case of two women and child, 6

(ANSA) - Rome, June 22 - The supreme Court of Cassation on Wednesday upheld a lower court's decision to approve a request for a lesbian to adopt her partner's biological daughter. Stepchild adoptions for gay couples is a contentious issue in Italy. A provision for stepchild adoptions was removed from a recent law regulating civil unions, including same-sex ones, after objections from conservative and Catholic lawmakers. Such adoptions "are admissible as long as...they are in the pre-eminent interests of the minor," the supreme court wrote in the case concerning two Rome women who married in Spain.
    Thanks to assisted fertility techniques the younger of the two gave birth to a daughter who is now six years old.
    They moved back to their home town, where the juvenile court in August 2014 recognized the non-biological partner's right to adopt her wife's daughter in what was the first legally recognized stepchild adoption for a gay couple in Italy.
    The ruling was upheld on appeal, but the prosecution appealed to the Supreme Court on grounds that while a 1983 law on special cases allows stepchild adoptions of children who are abandoned, orphaned, or mistreated by their biological parent, it should not be applied when the minor is in the custody of a loving biological parent. The Cassation ruling de facto establishes that the 1983 law can be extended to cases in which the minor is not orphaned or otherwise in distress, and it also de facto eliminates the foster care prerequisite. "Special cases adoptions are available for both single people and common-law couples and an examination of the requisites and conditions cannot - whether directly or indirectly - be based on the applicant's sexual orientation and consequently on the nature of the applicant's relationship with his or her partner," the court wrote.
    In this case the court privileged continuity of affections, stability, and the fulfillment of duties of care, support and education "analogous to parental ones" as being in the pre-eminent interests of the child, it wrote.
    The court also pointed out that same-sex couples are allowed to adopt children in 14 signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden - while Croatia, Estonia, Germany, and Slovenia allow stepchild adoptions for gays and lesbians.
    Cassation Court rulings set legal precedent in Italy.