Minister must decide on Irish passport application for boy with same-sex parents

The High Court ordered the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to a decision regarding a passport application by two UK-based dads for their son.

Close-up of Irish passport on pile of documents
Image: Twitter @dfatirl

A couple of same-sex parents in the UK have finally seen a positive result in their efforts to secure an Irish passport for their son, the Irish Examiner reports.

As far back as April 2017, the married couple had put in an application for an Irish passport for their young boy but they faced delays and a refusal on the basis that “a parent was understood to mean either the mother or father of the child or a male adopter”.

The boy was born in the UK through a lawful surrogacy arrangement, but only one of the fathers was named as a parent on the birth certificate, while the surrogate was listed as the second parent. The pair made an application for a Parental Order to the England Family Court and, under the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, they were successful in getting the child parentage reassigned.

As such, the boy was entitled to apply for an Irish passport because one of his dads (the dad who was added to the birth certificate) has both Irish and UK citizenship, so they put in an application to the Department for Foreign Affairs.

In July 2017, they received a letter from the Passport Officer telling them that their application would be refused by the Department because the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 does not recognise both men as parents of the boy. After providing more information in advance of the decision, they were told in September 2018 that the Passport Office was “bound by the legislation currently in place”.

“The Minister opposed the application arguing it was brought outside the time limits required by the rules of court,” wrote Ann O’Loughlin for the Irish Examiner.

However, yesterday, December 16, Mr Justice Barrett ordered the Minister for Foreign Affairs to come to a decision on the passport application during High Court proceedings, describing the delays as a “failure” and saying that “that failure is ongoing”.

As one of the boy’s dads is an Irish citizen, the judge ruled that this citizenship has extended to the child since his birth under Section 7(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

The judge did not, however, order that an Irish passport be issued because it was deemed unnecessary. As long as the Minister does not appeal this decision, a passport will be issued.

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