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French high court grants new rights to gay parents

Philippe Desmazes, AFP | A couple holds the hands of two babies born to a surrogate mother in 2011 in Ukraine.

France’s highest court ruled Wednesday that a child born to a surrogate mother abroad can be adopted by the partner of his or her biological father, thus being legally recognised by two parents in France.

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The ruling was a key victory for gay couples in France who have used foreign surrogates to have their children. Until now, however, France has refused to recognise the partner of the biological father as one of the child's parents.

Surrogacy, when a woman carries and gives birth to a child on behalf of someone else, often being paid for the service, is prohibited in France.

As a result, some gay couples in France have turned to surrogate mothers in places where the practice is legal, such as other countries in Europe or in the United States.

Up until 2015, France refused to recognise surrogate children as French citizens -- a hardline stance that left the children in limbo.

In another ruling on Wednesday, the court refused a request that French authorities automatically recognise the two parents listed on the foreign birth certificate, but it ruled that the father's partner could apply to adopt the child, in line with a 2013 law allowing both gay marriages and adoptions.

“The court chose a third path, between refusal and transcription pure and simple. That clearly isn’t satisfying for every family, but it allows children born to surrogates to establish a legal relationship with both parents, the biological father and the sociological father,” the one who raises them, said Patrice Spinosi, the lawyer representing one of the families whose case the court considered.

Spinosi was representing a gay couple who were raising a couple born to a surrogate in California. The biological father is legally recognised his France, but his partner was not. He had tried to adopt the child, but hadn’t been allowed to, until now.

With this ruling, he now has the right to a simple adoption, which leaves some legal ties to the birth parent intact, unlike a so-called full, or plenary, adoption.

Surrogacy is a hot-button topic in France, with Catholic groups fiercely opposed to any concessions to gay couples who circumvent the ban by using foreign surrogate mothers.

The ruling is the second victory in a week for same-sex couples who want children.

Last week, a national ethics body recommended allowing single women and lesbian couples to receive fertility treatment.

Currently only heterosexual couples have access to assisted reproductive technology (ART).

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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