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Same-sex couple claims to be the first to appear on a child's birth certificate

19 April 2010
Appeared in BioNews 554

A lesbian couple has claimed to be the UK's first to be both named on their child's birth certificate. Natalie Woods and Betty Knowles signed the certificate after the birth of Lily-May Betty Woods, who was conceived using donor sperm.

 The couple claimed to be the first to take advantage of the new provisions on legal parenthood under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 2008. The Act allows female same-sex couples to be jointly named the as legal parents of a child. Women in a civil partnership, but who did not give birth to the child, will automatically be named on the birth certificate along with the birth mother - unless they make a written objection or can show that they did not consent to their partner's treatment. Women who give birth following treatment that is licensed under the HFE Act 2008, but who are not in a civil partnership, can still nominate a second woman to be named as the child's 'parent' - provided that woman gives consent.

Miss Woods - who gave birth to Lily-May - is automatically recognised as the legal mother. If donated sperm is obtained via a Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)-licensed clinic a sperm donor is not recognised as the legal father. Prior to the change in the law made by the HFE Act 2008, however, Miss Knowles would have had to go to court to gain parental responsibility.

Miss Woods told the Telegraph: 'Compared to having to go through the courts, this is really straightforward and the way it should be.'

'It's also good that we don't have any of the worries and concerns of me being the only legal parent. It is quite a milestone, as the fact that same sex parents can both be on the birth certificate shows that our kind of family is becoming more acceptable'.

Some campaigning groups have criticised the decision to allow non-biological parents to be named on birth certificates. Josephine Quintavalle from Comment on Reproductive Ethics told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: 'Birth certificates should reflect how a baby is generated'.

'As much as you try to play around with the terminology, the biology reflects what has happened and one day the child will ask about their father'.

Currently, if a male same-sex couple had a child with the assistance of a surrogate, the surrogate would automatically be the legal mother. It would be possible for one of the men to be named on the birth certificate from birth, but not both. To gain legal parenthood a Parental Order would have to be granted by a judge.

Lesbian couple becomes first same sex couple to sign joint birth certificate
Daily Telegraph |  19 April 2010
Lesbian mothers become first gay couple to sign up as parents
Daily Mail |  19 April 2010
9 January 2012 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A Florida court has granted equal parental rights to two lesbian women who created a child using the eggs from one of the women, while the other carried the baby to term. It ruled that egg donors may acquire parental rights to children resulting from their gametes under the Florida and US Constitution....
4 April 2011 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
Britain's first 'gay-only' fertility centre has opened in Birmingham offering to help match potential parents with sperm or egg donors and surrogates....
15 November 2010 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
The London Women's Clinic (LWC) has reportedly received an application for fertility treatment by two gay men wanting to raise a child who wish to use one of the couple's sister as a surrogate....
21 June 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
The ex-partner of a lesbian cannot be forced to pay child maintenance for the couple's donor-conceived child because they never entered a civil partnership, a High Court judge has ruled...
30 April 2010 - by Louisa Ghevaert 
Birth certificates have been a hot topic in the UK in recent weeks. There has been much controversy, confusion and misunderstanding, aptly shown by Caroline Gammell's article in The Daily Telegraph newspaper and Colin Fernandez's article in the Daily Mail on 19 April incorrectly hailing the advent of the first lesbian couple to both be named as parents on their baby daughter's birth certificate, born 31 March this year. Lesbian couples have not in fact had to wait until the beginning of April...
29 March 2010 - by Ailsa Stevens 
New legislation allowing same-sex couples to become the legal parents of children born following surrogacy will come into force next week. The change to the law means that couples using surrogacy no longer need to be married to be named on their child's birth certificate and is intended to afford unmarried and same-sex couples using any form of assisted reproduction the same rights to legal parenthood. It forms the final stage of the implementation of the UK's Human Fertilisati...
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