Brief from IWHR Students and Advocates Leads to Precedent-Setting Decision

April 3, 2012

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has found that the government of Chile violated the rights of Karen Atala, a lesbian mother, when it stripped her of custody of her daughters because of their “unique family.” The ruling affirms that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories and that such discrimination violates international law.

CUNY Law’s International Women and Human Rights (IWHR) Clinic, MADRE, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) co-authored a brief for the Court, arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity should be found to be a protected class under the American Convention on Human Rights as held under international law.

Lisa Davis, Clinical Professor for Law for the IWHR Clinic and Human Rights Advocacy Director at MADRE, said, “The Court’s ruling is a milestone victory for human rights advocates the world over. It sets a precedent in international law that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a human rights violation—one that we hope will help defend the rights of LGBT persons wherever these rights are under attack.”

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