Irish Government Misses Deadline To Grant Equal Parental Rights To Same-Sex Parents

Due to errors in the wording of The Children and Family Relationships Act, a key part of the legislation can not be enacted.

A smiling female same-sex couple lay on the floor with their toddler

The Government has missed its own deadline to provide LGBT+ women who are same-sex parents the same parental rights as their straight counterparts. Amendments to The Children and Family Relationships Act were due to come into effect but having missed the deadline they have once again been pushed back, for the sixth time.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris had introduced legislation over the summer to fix typographical errors in Parts 2 and 3 of the Act which are concerned with the rights of children conceived through the use of donor embryos or gametes.

These rights are provided for in Parts 2 and 3 of the Act by:

  • clarifying the legal parentage of donor-conceived children;
  • ensuring that all parties to a donor-assisted human reproduction procedure have provided their consent and are aware of their rights and responsibilities;
  • and by vindicating the donor-conceived child’s right in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to know his or her genetic identity.

This new delay has come about as it was then discovered there were also mistakes in Part 9 of the Act.

Paula Fagan of LGBT Ireland said: “It was found out there are also mistakes in part 9, which falls under Social Protection and they now have to fix those mistakes, so that will mean another piece of legislation.” During questions in the Dail, it was said the amendments would be put through early in the new year, but as Fagan continues: “It’s just ridiculous at this stage, families are left in limbo.” For instance, for families who want to travel and need a passport for their child, the birth mother would effectively have to say they were single and sign an affidavit they were a single parent. 

Hugh Lane

In an interview with the Irish Times, married couple Ranae Von Meding and Audrey Rooney, who are expecting their second baby this Christmas through reciprocal IVF, spoke about how the Government’s lack of action effectively nullified marriage equality. Von Meding said: “If you look at the definition of marriage, it is usually seen as the foundation of the family. So when they say they have brought in marriage equality, they haven’t, because I’m viewed as a single parent,” she said. “If something happened to me, Audrey is effectively a stranger to our children legally.”

For male same-sex parents there is even further to go as surrogacy and assisted human reproduction is not included and not yet legislated for in Ireland. GCN recently interviewed a father whose family were excluded from the Bill and may be forced to move to the UK to gain legal recognition.

“If I could say anything to Simon Harris I would say why is my family excluded from this bill, why has he turned his back on gay fathers. There can only be one genetic parent in a female same-sex family and in a male same-sex family. Surely we should all have equal status and equal rights.”

Readers are urged to contact their local TDs with their concerns about yet another missed deadline in an attempt to ensure a speedy resolution.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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