Courting the Lesbians; (1) CAMPAIGNERS OUTRAGED OVER UNION'S GUIDELINES IN DIVORCE CASES (2)Support Gays as Mothers, Family Welfare Officers Told
Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY
COURT officials who advise on broken families have been told to be biased in favour of women and `support the rights of lesbians as mothers and carers'.
The 623 welfare officers make recommendations to Family Court judges which almost always determine how a divorced couple's children should be brought up.
In law, the officers are supposed to put the children's interests first.
Now their union, the National Association of Probation Officers, says they should also `challenge the experience of oppression of all women in separating families'.
It has told members: `The Family Court system shores up the traditional role of women in the family. Family Court work is an important opportunity to build on the strengths and the expansion of women's roles.'
Its `policy objectives and targets' include the duty to `challenge the discrimination against women in contested residence and contact decisions'.
It adds: `Family Court work is also an important opportunity to redress discrimination against lesbians and women with disabilities as carers and to challenge the racism which black and mixed-race families can encounter in dealing with institutions.'
NAPO's document says an anti-sexism policy is necessary because `through the process of paternity, there is male control over women, children and the family as an institution'.
The document has not been published and is intended for circulation only among NAPO's 7,000 members.
But last night, it provoked outrage among family campaigners and organisations for divorced men, who believe the family court system already favours mothers. …