Posted: July 2nd, 2012
Judge Karen Atala
In 2003, Judge Karen Atala lost custody of her three daughters, when, during a divorce hearing, the Supreme Court of Chile stripped her of her rights as a mother solely due to her sexuality. An eight year court battle ensued, during which time Ms. Atala co-founded Las Otras Familias the first Chilean organization focused on families formed by lesbians, aimed to show the reality and the legal insecurity experienced by lesbians every day in Chile. For almost ten years, spurred on by the injustice of the court’s ruling, Ms. Atala has bravely shared her story at forums and seminars, breaking down myths and stereotypes about gay people and their families. She is currently a member of the Iguales Foundation Advisory Board, an organization that seeks to establish non-discrimination, equal marriage and gender identity law. In addition, Ms. Atala is in the process of forming Alterito, an NGO that will serve as legal observer on matters of LGBT human rights in Chile.In August of 2011, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights heard Ms. Atala's case against the State of Chile. Ms. Atala’s incredible fight for justice resulted in a historic ruling in February of 2012 which confirms it is a violation of international human rights law to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. This ruling marks the first time the Inter-American Court has recognized the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. IGLHRC congratulates Ms. Atala for her victory and the impact she has had. With your help, we hope to see the protections outlined in this ruling resonate throughout the Americas and around the world.