Activist Ranae von Meding opens up about the fight to achieve equality for all children in Ireland

As part of the #StrongerTogether initiative, activist Ranae von Meding speaks about how we can fight to achieve equality for all children in Ireland.

CEO of Equality for Children Ranae von Meding, wearing a blue vest on a black t-shirt, sitting on a sofa.
Image: Hazel Coonagh

As we celebrate Pride Month across this island, we must confront the harsh reality that our community faces; a rising tide of disinformation, scapegoating and hate. It’s time again for us to channel our collective pain and anger into action for social justice. As part of the #StrongerTogether initiative in collaboration with the Rowan Trust and the Hope and Courage Collective, GCN interviewed activist Ranae von Meding, who spoke about how we can fight to achieve equality for all children in Ireland.

Ranae von Meding is the CEO of Equality for Children, a non-profit organisation formed in 2019. Equality for Children’s mission is to achieve equal legal status for same-sex parents, consequently achieving equality for their children. At the time of its founding, a child born to an LGBTQ+ family in Ireland could only have one legal parent. In these cases, only the biological* parent to the child would be recognised lawfully, rendering the other a legal alien.

Ranae recalled the time the grassroots group was formed, noting the injustice she was aiming to combat, saying “This was the situation that my wife and I were in; this is the case for so many other families in Ireland. When Equality for Children was formed, it was all parents who found themselves in that same situation. Really our mission was simple, to get equal standing for both parents under Irish law.”

This issue had been one that Ranae was advocating long before the organisation’s founding. She then found a group of like-minded people, all of whom were equally tenacious in facing the same injustice. She continued: “When there’s one voice speaking loudly, it’s hard to get people to listen. When you have combined voices and the strength in numbers, it just becomes so much more powerful. Almost immediately we started getting taken much more seriously by the relevant departments in government.”

Looking back on the foundation of this community with a common goal, Ranae described it as a “unifying” and “exciting” experience. It was a community of “people who were in the same boat, who understood the pain of the everyday. As a parent, when your child doesn’t have a basic, fundamental, right, it’s painful. Every day is painful.”

After intensive and enduring lobbying from the group, May 2020 saw the enactment of the Child and Families Relationships Act. This led to pathways being created for LGBTQ+ families to achieve equal parental status, albeit some who met certain criteria. Plans for the group to usher in further equity were already in place, and Ranae reflects on the significance of the event.

The activist said: “It was the first time in Irish history that we saw these families finally getting the recognition that they should have had from birth. It was amazing to see them being able to go to court and get a declaration of parentage or get their children’s birth certificate reissued.

“That was what was incredible to know; our organisation had a part in lobbying for this to finally be commenced. We had been putting pressure on the government and it was amazing to see that a very small, not-for-profit organisation could have an impact like that.”

While celebrating these milestones within the organisation, the CEO is also focused on the work that is left to be done. She resumed, “At this point in time, the only families who are covered are certain same-sex female couples, who have had their children through a fertility clinic in Ireland and gave birth to their children in Ireland. It’s very prescriptive. It’s very small.

“We cannot stop until it is done because equality for some people is not equality. If anything, it’s a kick in the face to all of the families who fall outside of those prescriptive criteria.”

Ensuring that the forthcoming Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Bill is capable is also a main priority for the lobby group. It’s a work in progress, with Equality for Children focused on creating an inclusive legislation, that leaves no LGBTQ+ family behind.

Ranae shared, “We’ve put a lot of time and resources into working with government and working with other groups to progressing that, and making sure that when the law does come in, that it’s fit for purpose.”

“We really try to show the politicians that what they’re doing needs to be all encompassing and needs to be inclusive. Some iterations of that bill have been very narrow and would essentially be quite limiting, especially in terms of where same-sex male couples can access surrogacy. So, we’re still not at the end of the road on that one.”

Anyone who believes that children deserve equality, regardless of what their family looks like, is welcome to join the team. Whether your expertise lies in social media, advocacy or legal advice, the group is always looking for new volunteers. The current team of active members meet weekly, and despite it being a relatively small group, the CEO is vocal about the immense pride she bears for the work that it does.

“I won’t sugar-coat it, it’s been very difficult when you’re fighting for something that is so deeply personal. However, it has also been incredibly rewarding, seeing the results of hard work and the progress that we’re making.”

This story originally appeared in GCN’s Pride issue 378, as part of an ongoing feature on solidarity that was created in cooperation with the Rowan Trust and the Hope and Courage Collective. You can read the full issue here

Want to be featured in this special campaign? Share a message of solidarity using #StrongerTogether, tagging GCN or email [email protected].


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