Irish LGBTQ+ community groups welcome Report reviewing Children’s Rights and Irish Law

LGBT Ireland and Equality for Children have called on the Government to act immediately on recommendations from the Report reviewing Children’s Rights and Irish Law.

report children's rights

Update April 12: A petition has been launched by Equality for Children calling on the Government and Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly to immediately adopt and implement the recommendations made in the report. Sign the petition here.

The publication today of the Report by Prof. Conor O’Mahony, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection on the rights of the child in relation to donor assisted human reproduction (DAHR) has been strongly welcomed by LGBT Ireland and Equality for Children.

The recommendations contained within the report provide clear and practical legal solutions which uphold the rights and best interests of children including their right to family life and non-discrimination. In doing so the report recognises the unequal position of many children in LGBTQ+ Families, who are still unable to establish a legal parental relationship to both of their parents.

It was widely reported last week that a same-sex female couple from Cork became the first to both be registered, from birth, as their twin’s legal parents. This was made possible by the commencement in May 2020 of the Children and Families Relationship Act, which was passed into law in 2015.

However, the majority of LGBTQ+ headed families fall outside any legal framework, meaning that only one parent can be recognised as a legal parent. This impacts the lives of children and their families in many ways including birth registration, citizenship provisions, childcare and/or educational provisions, social welfare and succession/inheritance.

The report also considers in detail the regulation of Surrogacy including what form of regulation is optimal from a children’s rights perspective. In doing so Prof. O’Mahony notes that “Ireland’s failure to regulate surrogacy to date has had negative consequences for Irish families who have engaged in both domestic and international surrogacy arrangements” and calls for “an acceptance of the reality of surrogacy as an international phenomenon”.

LGBT Ireland CEO Paula Fagan supports this view “in light of this review, we are calling on the Government to take Professor O’Mahony’s advice and build on the learning from other jurisdictions by publishing AHR legislation that meets the highest international standards, protects all parties involved and makes provisions for both domestic and international surrogacy”.

Ms Fagan also called on the Government to include provisions in the forthcoming AHR Bill that allow for retrospective declarations of parentage in DAHR and Surrogacy cases, “we support many families who have spent years living in legal limbo, with only one parent recognised. This can have far reaching consequences, especially when a child is ill or needs to establish citizenship but also in simple ways in everyday life, for example when giving school permission or signing a waiver for a sports activity, which can cause embarrassment, confusion and distress for the child and the parents”.

LGBT Ireland calls on the Government to ensure no time is wasted in implementing the recommendations from the O’Mahony Report for children’s rights and to also consider the recommendations by the Oireachtas Committee on Health submitted to the Department of Health in relation to the AHR Bill 2017.

Ranae von Meding, CEO of Equality for Children says, “Today’s launch represents another crucial step forward in our campaign. By adopting all of the recommendations in Dr O’ Mahony’s report, thousands of children in Ireland will finally be able to have a legal parent-child relationship with both of their parents, something that has been denied to them to date. This includes children born to gay dads through surrogacy, children conceived using known donors and those concevied outside of clinical settings left behind in the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015”.

“Significantly, the report recognises the uneven impact the CFRA has had on children conceived outside of clinical settings and born to LGBT+ parents who cannot rely on the presumption of paternity/maternity as male-female couples can. This very principle has been a significant pillar of our campaign at Equality for Children as it has effectively resulted in children of LGBT+ parents being discriminated against based on the sexual orientation of their parents.

“We urge the Government to act swiftly and adopt all of these recommendations into legislation governing assisted human reproduction. It is almost 6 years since our country voted for marriage equality. We are still waiting for the legislation that will allow the children of LGBT+ parents to be treated equally. It is not equality until it includes everyone”.

“As it stands currently, in the vast majority of LGBT+ families only one parent can be a legal parent. This must change… It’s not equal and it’s not what we voted for,” Ranae commented.

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