GCN spoke to demonstrators outside Leinster House who gathered this afternoon to bring attention to the proposed Children and Families Relationship Act, which was originally enacted in 2015 but is yet to be passed. The bill provides no legal recognition to many LGBT families, including gay fathers and same-sex couples who received IVF treatment abroad.
Ranae Von Meding sought reciprocal IVF as it wasn’t available in Ireland. She carried the pregnancies of her and her wife’s two-year-old and newborn, and explains that her wife has no legal right to their two children, even though they used her eggs:
“This legislation that’s proposed has been in the making for four years. It was passed four years ago and it still hasn’t been commenced. Hopefully, it will be commenced in the next few months, but once it does come in, it’s not going to cover a lot of LGBT families.
“It’s not going to cover couples who went abroad. We went abroad because reciprocal IVF wasn’t available in Ireland. Families who go abroad, anyone who does at-home insemination, and all gay fathers are totally excluded from this bill.
“It’s not good enough. Equality is not equality unless it’s for everybody.”
Parents Fiona Armstrong Astley and Ralph Armstrong face similar issues with their twins Billy and Edison.
“I carried our twins, but my wife has been unrecognised in every step of the process even though she has been with me since day 1,” explained Fiona.
She added, “To get a passport for our children, I have to sign to say that I’m a single parent, which I’m not. We’ve been together for 10 years, married for five. It took us five years to have twin babies, so it’s been a hard struggle.
“We voted to be equal 2015, and to be treated like our friends, like our heterosexual couple friends, and we’re not.”
Fiona also explained the difficulties she faced when LGBT families register the birth of their twins:
“They asked me if I was married. I said yes. When they realised I was married to a woman they encountered a lot of difficulties in registering the birth of the children. They asked if I had a letter from the fertility clinic we used and what donor I used. I got asked a thousand questions at a very public desk when nobody else registering the birth of their children were asked those questions.
“If I was married to a man and we conceived a child via egg and sperm donor, nobody would ask any questions. Whereas we’re expected to register on a donor list now, to have all of that information.
“We’ve decided that when the kids turn 18, they’re more than welcome to find the donor. We’ve all the information. We actually have more genetic information on our donor than you would from a one-night-stand.
“We’ve put our heart and souls into this. We’ve put a mortgage payment into conceiving our children, and I feel that to say my wife is any less of a mother than I am because the law hasn’t caught up to what families have been doing for years is not on.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for LGBT rights Fintan Warfield discussed the long-awaited legislation:
“We’ve been waiting four years for this legislation. It needs to be brought forward now. The problems that face LGBT families such as consent for their child on things like travel and healthcare and all of those issues need to be addressed in this legislation.
“There are some people here who have had their whole families since the legislation was first enacted. It’s gone on for too long.”
GCN also spoke to head of LGBT Ireland Paula Fagan about the legislation.
“We’re here to today to raise awareness mainly to politicians that the Children And Families Relationships Act was brought into law four years ago and it still hasn’t been commenced. So that means that for same-sex parents, only one can be legally recognised,” she explained.
She added, “We’ve seen one delay after another, and we are here to say enough is enough. This needs government support, and it could be progressed in a matter of weeks if we had the government support.
I think the government don’t see it as maybe as a minority issue, that it only affects a small number of families. But it’s real lives. It’s real children. The government see themselves as a progressive government and yet our families’ fundamental right to be recognised still isn’t a reality.
“This is a children’s rights issue. Children in LGBT families don’t have the right or the legal recognition of their primary caregivers, which has serious implications for them. That can be incomprehensible to children because they know who loves them, who takes care of them and who their parents are, so the law needs to catch up with that.”
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