The European Court of Human Rights will this week rule on whether the French authorities were right to refuse to allow a lesbian couple to adopt a child.

The ruling will have an impact on gay adoption laws throughout Europe.

A woman identified as EB, a 45-year-old French nursery school teacher, had been living with R, a psychologist, since 1990.

In February 1998, EB applied to the social services in the Alpine department of Jura to adopt a child. During the adoption process, she did not conceal her homosexuality or her long-term relationship.

On the basis of reports by a welfare officer and a psychologist, the application was refused in November 1998 because of the absence of a “paternal reference” and by the “ambiguity” of R’s attitude to the adoption, the Sunday Business Post has reported.

The administrative court of Besancon overturned the decision in February 2000.

The appeal court in then Nancy overruled that judgment, saying that the refusal to approve the adoption was not based on EB’s life choice, so had not breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

EB appealed but, in June 2002, the Council of State decided that the Nancy court had not based its decision on a point of principle about sexual orientation, but on the needs and interests of the child.

EB appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming she had been given discriminatory treatment.

The European region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, the Association of Parents and Future Parents of Gays and Lesbians and the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering were given permission to intervene in the proceedings.

The decision will be delivered today.