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Gay sperm donor wins the right to see biological son in Ireland

Discussion in 'Mahusiano, mapenzi, urafiki' started by Serendipity, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Serendipity

    Serendipity JF-Expert Member

    Dec 14, 2009
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    A LANDMARK legal ruling in a which a sperm donor has secured access to his son is unlikely to lead to increased rights for unmarried fathers, according to legal experts.
    Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that a 41-year old gay man, whose biological son is being raised by two lesbians, can have access to his three-year-old child.
    In a unanimous judgment, the five-judge court ruled that while the man was not entitled to guardianship, he had natural rights over the boy.
    But the court said there was no institution of a 'de facto' family under the Irish Constitution, dashing the hopes of thousands of heterosexual, same-sex and other non-marital family units raising children.
    "The status quo remains," said family law expert Geoffrey Shannon, who is the Government's rapporteur on child protection.
    "Although the ruling has boosted birth fathers' rights, it has reinforced the constitutional exclusivity of the family based on marriage."
    The five judges unanimously found it was in the best interest of the boy's welfare to remain in contact with his biological father.
    The court previously heard the man donated his sperm to the couple, who were his friends, so one of them could have a baby. It was the couple's preference that the child would have knowledge of his biological father and the donor would be like a "favourite uncle".
    But their friendship deteriorated and he started court action two years ago when the couple planned to move to Australia for a year with the boy.
    Lawyers for the man, who attended court yesterday, said he was "very happy" with the outcome. The lesbian couple, who took part in a civil union ceremony in England some years ago, was not present for the ruling.
    Yesterday's ruling means that the gay man and the lesbian couple will have to come to an arrangement over access to the boy or else the High Court will have to determine the access.
    Overturning an earlier High Court decision that the man was not entitled to access to the child, Ms Justice Susan Denham -- in her judgment -- found that the sperm donor had rights as a natural father and added that he had formed a bond with the child when he was born.
    "There is benefit to a child, in general, to have the society of his father," she said.
    "I am satisfied that the learned High Court judge gave insufficient weight to this factor.
    "The basic issue is the welfare of the child," she added.
    The judge also found the lesbian couple was not a family under the Constitution of Ireland and said their relationship may not be weighed as such in the balance against the father.
    Last night, the Iona Institute, a pro-marriage and pro-religion organisation, welcomed the decision saying it respected the rights of both fathers and children.
    Director David Quinn said: "A biological father has a right to know and have access to his child, and a child has a right to know and have access to his or her biological father.
    "It is clear the Government must now move to regulate the assisted human reproduction industry, and to do so in a way that is fully child-centred."
    But campaign group Noise warned that the ruling effectively meant same-sex couples raising children had no recourse to legal protection.
    "There is now a moral obligation on the Government to legislate as soon as possible for access to civil marriage for same-sex couples in order to allow them and their children to avail of all of the vital legal protections reserved for families," organiser Paul Kenny said.
    "This is the only child-centred option."
    Source:Irish Independent