Case of Atala and Daughters v. Chile

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Concerning the Inter-American Court (IACHR) overturning the Chilean Supreme Court’s decision to deny Judge Karen Atala custody of her children because of her sexual orientation.

Full Case Title: 

Case of Atala and Daughters v. Chile
  • Fairness in the Courts


  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • International Human Rights
  • Parental Rights
  • Authored Amicus Brief


Summary of the Case

In 2004, the Chilean Supreme Court denied Judge Karen Atala custody of her children in favor of her ex-husband. The Chilean Court’s decision was based upon Ms. Atala being a lesbian, saying her children were “at risk” if raised by her and her partner. Ms. Atala had brought the case to the IACHR after exhausting legal recourse in Chile.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief in the case arguing that the Chilean Court’s decision violated international human rights laws and legal authority.


On Wednesday March 21, the Inter-American Court (IACHR) handed down a ruling overturning the Chilean Supreme Court’s 2004 decision. The IACHR, a judicial entity of the Organization of American States, held that Chile had violated several human rights principles, including the right to privacy, equality and discrimination. The State of Chile must pay compensation to Ms. Atala and legal fees. Her children will also receive damages. The IACHR also recommended that the State of Chile adopt legislation, policies, programs directives that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, including in the administration of justice.