Blogging for LGBT Families

2007familyday150x200, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

Once again, I am posting a non-Cambodian, non-human-trafficking post; but it is none the less important. Today is Blogging for LGBT Families day (as you can see by the lovely button) and I thought it would be nice to help add to the list of countries included. This post, written from Cambodia, by an American, is about a Chilean lesbian parent and the organization founded because of her struggle.

When I lived in Chile in 2000 and knew the people over at the gay rights movement (, it was mostly male– per norm, lesbians were invisible in a still grassroots and small gay right movement. However, that has now changed and there are several organizations specifically for women. Today I would like to introduce you to one: Las Otras Familias (The Other Families).

Karen Atala, a Chilean judge with three children, had her children taken away from her by the courts in 2004 when she moved in with her partner. The courts granted custody to the father, he ex-husband. Ms. Atala, being a lawyer and judge herself, appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Chile which ruled on the basis that, “[the children] would suffer psychological harm living with Ms. Atala and her partner…[and that] they would become confused about gender roles and suffer from discrimination and isolation.” The court then nullified all her rights as a mother and gave permanent and total custody to the girl’s father forever. She is still fighting, now on an international front, to have her children returned to her.

This court decision does more that just throw into termoil the lives of her daughters and herself; the court has set a precedent in Chile that would strike fear into the heart of any LGBT parent. Las Otras Familias, which emerged from this, is an organization that combats discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for women in all areas: legal right, work rights, maternity rights, etc. It is amazing the strength and community that has come together, spoken out, and continues to support one another in the face of injustice.

It is amazing to think of all the difficulties faced in developed and progressive nations when it comes to parentage and sexual orientation– it is even more devastating in the second world and third world. If you haven’t seen it, go check out Dangerous Living, a documentary that looks at coming out in the developing world.



  1. June 2, 2007 at 2:19 am

    […] *An MSW In Cambodia: Blogging for LGBT Families Day […]

  2. Liza said,

    June 4, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Wow, Clare, what a scary story. Thanks for bringing it more attention — I hope Mombian picks this post to highlight.

    For what it’s worth, probably the biggest thing keeping my family from moving back to Milwaukee right now is the fact that in Georgia, I’ll be able to adopt Jill’s biobaby (assuming she gets pregnant), but in Wisconsin, I wouldn’t be able to be that baby’s legal parent.

    I think those kinds of inconsistencies are some of the scariest and most frustrating and crazymaking parts of being a LGBT family. Crazymaking because you feel equally frustrated by the constraints on choices and relieved that at least there is an option for legal adoption.

  3. Clare said,

    June 4, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    It’s sad that living in a state where the lack of laws puts you at the mercy of a judge’s whim is better then living in Wisconsin. I actually did my policy evaluation paper on same-sex parent adoption (both adoption and second parent adoption). Did you know that Florida, a state that equivocally will not allow LGB parents to adopt, has an award for outstanding foster care parents named after a gay couple?

  4. June 5, 2007 at 1:22 am

    […] at An MSW in Cambodia tells us the story of Karen Atala, a Chilean parent whose children were taken away by the court […]

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