The Czech Church has protested the extension of child adoption rights to same-sex couples, under an amendment to the country's registered partnerships law.
"There's something much deeper and more fundamental than our freedom and our rights - and that's our respect for others, especially for those who cannot assert their own legitimate needs", said Bishop Vaclav Maly, chairman of the Church's Justice and Peace Commission. "The model of the family, constituted by a man and a woman, has been proved over thousands of years and shown by numerous expert studies to serve a child's physical and psychological needs best. Does this not constitute an entitlement for the child?"
The Prague auxiliary was reacting to a Czech Constitutional Court judgment, overturning a ban on child adoption by gays and lesbians living in registered partnerships. In a statement, he said the Catholic Church believed the new measure would "further weaken the importance of biological parenthood", with its "unique and irreplaceable potential", and shared the fears of the country's Association of Family Centres that it would also would push forward further liberalisation.
"The adoption of children by registered partnerships will open up a debate on deliberate procreation in homosexual relationships", Bishop Maly said. "Unlike that of most European countries, our legislation doesn't respect a child's right to know the identity of its biological parents. This has an inevitable impact on the child's psychological development and turns the child into a commodity satisfying the needs of another individual".
Catholics traditionally make up 27 per cent of the 10.5 million inhabitants of the Czech Republic, which legalised registered partnerships in 2006 and banned all sexual discrimination under a comprehensive 2009 law, and is widely considered one of Europe's most liberal countries in its treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
The draft child adoption amendment to the 2006 law was sponsored by the Czech Republic's Human Rights Minister, Jiri Dienstbier, who was prominent with Bishop Maly in the communist era's Charter 77 dissident movement. However, it was referred by local justice officials after protests to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that a continued ban on adoption by registered partnerships was discriminatory since individual gays and lesbians could adopt.
In his statement, Bishop Maly said a sharp recent rise in cases of child abuse and neglect in the Czech Republic had necessitated a fuller debate on adoption and foster care. However, he added that current discussions had been "used unscrupulously" to promote "the rights of mostly well-off adults", and suggested a "deeper understanding of humanity" was needed by society.