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Ties That Bind: Towards a Child-Centred Approach to Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender Families under the ECHR *

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image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

This paper examines the European Court’s of Human Rights approach towards lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender families and points to the absence of a child-centred approach in its judgments. While adult same-sex relationships are increasingly gaining recognition under the Convention and national laws, in matters concerning children the Court prefers a heteronormative outlook that, it is suggested, attaches special significance to the symbolic innocence of the child. Consequently, the Court’s case-law does not adequately reflect the reality of the increasing numbers of children raised in LGBT families. The consequences of this blind-spot are considerable: it endorses the patchwork of uneven protection for children in LGBT families under national laws. This paper points towards a child-centred approach that would broaden the Court’s understanding of family life and more accurately reflect the family lives of children raised in non-traditional families.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Law, University of Leicester, UK,


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