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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Chile lesbian loses child appeal
By Clinton Porteous
BBC News, Santiago

The Chilean Supreme Court has backed a ruling forcing a lesbian woman to give up custody of her three daughters.

The court rejected allegations of discrimination after Karen Atala took her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The Chilean court said her children's development was at risk because she was living in a lesbian relationship.

Confirmation of the ruling will be sent to the Chilean Government, which must respond to the complaint.

Karen Atala lost custody of her children last year and now sees them one weekend a month.

She is fighting to regain care of her daughters but the Supreme Court is unmoved.

Socially conservative

Judicial sources said the court re-affirmed its earlier ruling and argued that due process had been followed.

However, the court's president has delayed publishing the latest decision.

Last May, the court ruled against Ms Atala on the grounds that she was living in a lesbian relationship.

It argued that this could negatively affect the development of the children and eventually create confusion over sexual roles.

Ms Atala complained to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of gross discrimination.

The commission has taken up the case and asked the Chilean State to justify the ruling.

As a first step, the Chilean Supreme Court has confirmed its position and sent its argument to the government.

Chilean authorities must respond to the commission by the end of the month.

The centre-left government prides itself on being progressive, but Chile is socially conservative and there is an election at the end of the year.

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