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Ireland: Children of Same-sex Couples May Carry Both Parental Names
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of 8 November 2019) Earlier this week, the Irish Minister of Health signed a bill allowing same-sex couples to register the names of both parents in their children’s birth certificates. The new rules will come into force on 5 May 2020, five years after the referendum that introduced marriage for everyone in Ireland. Unfortunately, the rules are still rather inadequate.
Health Minister Simon Harris has signed the new bill, which will become paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act. This new law follows the Children and Family Act of 2015.
The bill was drafted together with same-sex parents and LGBT associations. Minister Harris pointed out that the vote for the referendum on marriage means a vote for equal treatment for all family relationships, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.
With a few exceptions, birth certificates of children of same-sex couples only bear the name of one of the two parents, namely the natural parent. The other parent has no right to the child, creating a legal vacuum and injustice in the event of the illness or death of the natural parent. This is a serious disadvantage for the other parent, but also for the child, whose right to two full parents is violated.
This leads to difficult personal circumstances. For example, if a natural father or mother applies for a passport for a natural child, she or he must sign a declaration certifying single status.
The Equality for Children campaign has, among other things, successfully fought against this discriminatory treatment and called on the government to change these regulations.
Further amendments to harmonize legislation for same-sex and heterosexual couples are in preparation. The Irish government will continue to develop the Children and Family Relationships Act in consultation with the LGBT associations.
The future law to support human reproduction, which Minister Harris is currently preparing, will also take into account the comments and suggestions of the LGBT community. The Minister has not yet specified whether the planned law will cover all issues such as medically assisted reproduction (MAP) and in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogate mothers, sperm donation, egg donation, egg freezing and storage or, in some cases, post-mortem fertilization. The minister wants to discuss this with all parties beforehand, but does not say whether MAP and IVF will finally be open to all women, including lesbians and singles.
The Irish Children and Family Act 2015 only provides for a small number of rights and guarantees for same-sex couples. Under certain conditions, the non-natural parent may be recognized as the legal parent of a child. Partnerships, marriages or same-sex couples living together also have a right to adoption. But that’s about it. In other words, in 2019 the government is still far behind the popular will expressed in the 2015 referendum.