Tuesday 12 November 2019

Order signed to let same-sex couples register both names on birth certificate

Minister for Health Simon Harris signed commencement orders and regulations.

Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)
Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

New regulations have been signed to allow some same-sex couples to legally register both names on their child’s birth certificate.

Minister for Health Simon Harris signed commencement orders and regulations on Monday for Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, which will come into effect on May 5.

Until now, some gay couples could only register the child’s birth mother, meaning the other person in the relationship had no legal parental rights to the child they were raising.

  • Heterosexual couples
  • Female same-sex couples
  • Single women undergoing donor-assisted reproduction

From next year, the woman who gives birth to the child will be able to name their spouse, civil partner or co-habitant as the second parent, subject to consent of both parties.

The provisions apply to heterosexual couples, female same-sex couples, and single women undergoing donor-assisted reproduction.

Children who are not protected by the Act include those with two male parents or a transgender parent, are conceived with a known donor, are born through surrogacy, conceived through at-home insemination or outside Ireland.

The new regulations also enshrine the child’s right to know their genetic identity, protected through the establishment of a National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

The register will enable any child conceived by a donor who has reached the age of 18 to access personal “identifying” information on the relevant donor and any genetic donor-conceived siblings they may have and, if they wish, to contact those individuals.

This is something many people have waited a long time for and I am so pleased we are in a position to sign the regulations and confirm the start date Simon Harris

Mr Harris said the signing of the commencement order was a significant day.

“This is something many people have waited a long time for and I am so pleased we are in a position to sign the regulations and confirm the start date,” he said.

“There are other areas we need to work on and I am determined to work with advocacy groups to further evolve our legislation in this area.

“The regulations signed today include a declaration of parentage regulation and a certification regulation which for the first time allows the intending mother to name their spouse or civil partner as the second parent of the child.

“A parent under this section shall have all parental rights and duties in respect of the child.

“The donor of a gamete or embryo shall not be a parent of that child and shall have no parental rights or duties in respect of that child.”

Many children will be left behind and ignored simply because of how or where they were conceived Equality for Children

The Act also provides for female same-sex couples who already have a child together to seek a retrospective declaration of parentage through the courts, if one of the women involved is the birth mother, following a unknown donor-assisted procedure.

Many campaigners have criticised the legislation as not going far enough.

Equality for Children says the legislation stops short of full equality: “This legislation will finally allow for some children of LGBT+ families to be treated equally and have a legal connection to their parents. However it will only do this for some children.

“Many children will be left behind and ignored simply because of how or where they were conceived.

“This will only allow female same-sex couples that used an Irish clinic and non-anonymous donor to both be named on the birth certificate.

“Unfortunately so many LGBTQ+ families will be left behind.

“This Act , however favourable for some, is clearly discriminating our community.”

A protest was held on Monday afternoon outside the Department of Health to highlight the “inequalities faced by our children and focus on those who will see no benefit from this”.

“We need the Department of Health to make further amendments to the CFRA to include all families without delaying.”

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