Same sex couples to be allowed to register names on child’s passport and birth cert

Bill to fix drafting errors in 2015 Act will also ban anonymous sperm, egg donations

Same sex parents will finally be able to register both their names on their child’s birth certificate after the introduction of a Bill to amend drafting errors in previous legislation.

The Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill will also ban anonymous sperm and egg donation in fertility treatment and will allow children born through donor assisted human reproduction access to their genetic heritage once they turn 18.

Provisions for the ban and a register to allow children access to their personal family information were contained in the Children and Family Relationships Act passed in 2015.

But technical drafting errors were identified when regulations were under preparation to facilitate the implementation of the legislation, to enable the ban and the register go ahead.

The Bill was passed on Wednesday night by the Dáil and is expected to be passed by the Seanad before the summer recess.

Once regulations are finalised for the autumn, same sex couples will be allowed to retrospectively register both their names on their child’s birth certificate and passport.

The original clauses in the Act had not been commenced because of the errors which meant that some rights were afforded only to the birth mother.

Mr Harris told the Dáil the Act “specifically relates to donor-assisted human reproduction procedures where the intending mother is also the birth mother”.

He said the Act did not encompass surrogacy and the amending Bill did not change any of the substantive provisions of the legislation.

“We’re fixing typographical errors to remedy a number of technical drafting errors.”

The original 2015 Act represented “the most significant change in family law in a generation.

“It was to reform family law to better reflect the reality of contemporary family life in Ireland and to meet the needs of children living in diverse family types,” Mr Harris said.

It will give rights to children to information on their genetic heritage and bans anonymous donations.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly said Fianna Fail would support the legislation on the basis that it was "purely technical and it doesn't change the substance of the Bill".

He said the changes would provide much needed clarity and provide a clear understanding about rights, responsibility and consent and children’s rights to know their genetic identity.

Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said the reality of the Act “has yet to be fulfilled and much has not been delivered for the LGBT community”.

But she said “we have to ask why it has taken three years to bring forward even the most limited legislation to implement sections of that (2015) Act”.

She said there were couples who would very definitely benefit from the legislation and she hoped it “delivers for them and gives them the protections they need”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is a parliamentary reporter with The Irish Times