The Czech minister for human rights and ethnic minorities has called for a debate on whether the gay partner of a parent should be allowed to adopt his or her child.

The Czech Repbulic was recently criticised for having too many children in state care. 20,000 children currently reside in institutions within the country.

Tereza Kodickova, spokeswoman for a Czech LGBT equality group the Gay and Lesbian League welcomed the news:

“The community, I think, is potentially interested because there are quite a few lesbian couples who haven’t yet registered because their main motivation to enter into a registered partnership is to raise children,” Tereza said.

“On the other hand, we, as the Gay and Lesbian League, are waiting to hear from the community what their priorities are as to the changes in the current registered partnership legislation.”

A RCA poll showed 42% of the country were against gay adoption, while 39% supported it.

Tereza did not seemed phased by the results and felt a debate was imminent: “Well, given the fact that the minister has already made the statement, I think the debate has been launched, the time being right or not.”

She was quick to explain that the proposed legislation was designed to bring already formed families together, not allow gay parents to adopt children from orphanages:

“People generally tend to think that to adopt a child means to adopt somebody else’s child.,” Tereza said.

“But currently there is no legal relationship between the child and the non-biological parent who is actually already raising the child. So what we need is adoption by the non-biological parent who is currently raising the child.”

She speculated that, “Minister Stehlikova would wish this to become generally known that at this point it is not about adopting strange children, so to say, but adopting a child that is already being raised by the couple.”

The Czech Republic has become a more openly tolerant society towards the LGBT community in the last few years.

In June Prague held its first Gay Pride march. Anti-gay protests had been banned in the week running up to the event, but marchers were set upon by far-right protesters.

The National Party, one of the groups to picket Gay Pride, said in a statement, “The march’s goal is nothing but pressure on the majority. The disgusting pressure aims to make society accept adoption of children by homosexual couples.”

20 people were injured and three were arrested when homophobic protests got out of handed and erupted into violence.

The Czech Republic has been conducting a study on the impact of gay parents on children. The results are due to be released in early 2009.

Dzamila Stehlikova, the minister for human rights and ethnic minorities, hopes the findings will aid the debate on gay adoption.