Lesbian Mom Who Court Said Was Unfit Has One Last Chance

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com August 25 2011 6:47 PM ET

A lesbian mother in Chile — who the nation's Supreme Court said was a risk to her children because she's living with a partner — has one last chance to get back into her three daughters' lives.

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights has agreed to hear the case, its first dealing with LGBT issues. Karen Atala Riffo is a judge herself, and she won in lower-court decisions until the Supreme Court intervened and granted full custody to her ex-husband.

Riffo's loss at such a high level in 2004 might have seemed the last hope. But the international court is able to issue a ruling that Chile has agreed to follow.

“What happened to Karen Atala represents discrimination of the crudest sort," said Jessica Stern of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in a statement. "For no reason other than her sexuality, a court separated a mother from her children. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights now has an opportunity to render a decision that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is wrong.” 

 Read a profile on the history of the case by The Boston Globe.