LGBT parents 'face discrimination'
Jane Pillinger, Senator Katherine Zappone, Paula Fagan, and Patrick Stoakes at the launch of the first study into LGBT parents in Ireland at Wood Quay today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents face “significant discrimination” in Government policy, in public services and from their own families the first research of its kind here finds.
Almost half were unaware of just how few rights they would have as non-biological parents.
The Parents in Ireland study, published today by Senator Katherine Zappone, involved on-line research with 153 LGBT parents and 18 in-depth interviews. They are parents to 272 children varying from infancy to adulthood.
They also surveyed 170 people planning to become parents and seven of these took part in in-depth interviews.
The study found 46 per cent of the parents had “experienced discrimination as an LGBT parents within the past five years”.
“The overriding concern for all parents was in relation to legal vulnerability [in relation to the non-biological parent’s ineligibility for legal guardianship of the child]”.
This was a cause of huge anxiety not only for the affected parents but for the whole family involved, it said.
“Trans parents experienced significant discrimination in terms of acceptance, hostile reactions and sustained negative attitudes, primarily from family members.”
The study found a knowledge gap among prospective LGBT parents.
“More than two out of five participants were not able to identify their anticipated legal status as parents. Additionally, despite no legal provision to do so significant numbers planned to become either joint legal guardians or joint adoptive parents.”
No one other than a biological parent may be granted guardianship.
Participants said legislation for civil marriage would make an enormous difference to the position of LGBT parents, affording their relationships greater legal protection.
The report also recommends legislation to enable second-parent adoption and to be able to adopt a child who is being fostered.
Lesbian and gay couples planning to become parents said they found services, such as assisted reproduction, more welcoming outside Ireland than here in Ireland.
The study was commissioned by LGBT Diversity and carried out by independent researchers Jane Pillinger and Paula Fagan.