Karen Atala’s case

Mario Alfaro

Karen’s sentence is one of the key precedents in the recognition of people belonging to LGBTI communities.

Karen’s story begins when in 1993 she married Jaime. Product of that marriage were born 3 daughters. In March of 2002, Karen and Jaime decided to separate, by common agreement they decided that Karen would keep the custody of the daughters.

Karen began a relationship with Emma that year. In 2003, Jaime filed a lawsuit to obtain custody of the daughters. His argument was that Karen’s sexual orientation affected the normal development of the girls and that it constituted a risk for them since they could contract sexually transmitted diseases.

After a long process, the Supreme Court of Chile decided that the girls should live with Jaime since there was an inability to be a mother and being lesbian because the girls could be discriminated against.

In addition, the Supreme Court of Chile stated that Karen had placed her personal interests above those of her daughters, as she voluntarily decided to live with her homosexual partner.

After this controversial decision, Karen appealed to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and the court ruled in favour of Karen noting that the state of Chile violated Karen’s rights by taking custody of her daughters due to her sexual orientation. It also noted that no right can be denied or restricted by a person’s sexual orientation.

From this sentence, it is possible to account for the prejudices that may exist in a society. Prejudices to the extent that it affects judicial decisions.

This ruling was a precedent for the education of a closed Society regarding the rights and freedoms of persons belonging to the LGBTI community. States cannot use the best interest of the child as a pretext to support their discriminatory treatment.

The ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights comes to dignify couples and families of the same sex. It is the duty of each state to promote the rights of these families, and thus protect their freedom of expression

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