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'What we have in Ireland is not equal': Same-sex parents call for more legal rights to their children

The protest was held this afternoon outside the Department of Health building in Dublin.

Ranae von Meding with one of her children at the protest today.
Ranae von Meding with one of her children at the protest today.
Image: Orla Dwyer

SAME-SEX PARENTS have called for equal legal rights to their children to be secured in legislation as soon as possible as they held a protest outside the Department of Health building today.  

The Equality for Children campaign is seeking equal legal rights for many LGBT parents to their children. Currently, only one parent of a donor-assisted child born to same-sex couples can put their name on the birth certificate. 

Legislation to change this is due to commence from May 2020, five years after the marriage equality referendum took place. However the campaign group says they want this legislation to apply to more types of families. 

LGBT rights campaigner Ranae Von Meding is one of several members of the campaign group who met with Minister for Health Simon Harris today to discuss the issue. She said LGBT children are “being discriminated against” because they are not legally connected to both parents. 

“We’re here today to seek equality for all the children of Ireland,” she told TheJournal.ie. ”I think that it will be good to have a discussion and outline what we want and to see what ideas [Simon Harris] has to achieve true equality for all of our families.”

“Something will happen because we will make it happen,” she said. 

In order to apply for a passport for their child, the biological same-sex parent has to sign an affidavit to say they are a lone parent.  

The Children and Families Act 2015 introduced some rights for same-sex parents including the right to apply for guardianship to non-biological parents in certain relationships and the right to apply to adopt for civil partners and cohabiting couples. 

However, provisions in the Act to allow non-biological parents to be recognised as legal parents of children brought through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) have not yet commenced.  

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Minister Simon Harris said he previously held meetings with LGBT parents and groups and will carry out another meeting in two weeks. 

“It is very clear to me that the people of this country voted for equality in a referendum a number of years ago. What is also very clear is that some of our laws need to evolve in this regard,” he said. 

“In two weeks time, I will meet again with the groups and sign the regulations to commence Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act. It will come into effect on May 5th 2020. I share the views of the families here today that the current situation is not acceptable.”

‘It’s time to get moving’

Spokesperson for the Equality for Children campaign Elaine Grange-Furlong attended the protest today. Her wife is the only legal parent to their two children. 

“We have so many families and children still impacted by the absolute lack of progress and inaction. It’s time to get moving and get this fixed,” said Grange-Furlong. 

“They [the government] need to rethink how they believe a family is structured and they need to rethink and get this legislation passed.

“Everybody saw marriage equality and the success it became and thought ‘great, sorted’.. but now under its shadow, this has been allowed to go on and I don’t think people know much about it, even within the LGBT community.” 

Ranae Von Meding said the sole intention of the campaign group is to create a country in which “all children are treated equally”. 

“It’s been almost five years since Ireland said yes to equality, and yet what we have in Ireland in 2019 is not equal,” she said at the protest today. 

“Yes, LGBTQ+ couples can get married, but that is where the equality starts and ends. Only one parent is considered a legal parent.

Von Meding is the legal parent to her two daughters while her wife has “no legal rights or connections” to them, despite also being their mother. 

“We are simply parents who want to ensure security, safety and equality for our children.  If anything were to happen to me, our two daughters would be orphaned and yet they have another parent who loves and cares for then equally,” she said. 

The group representatives planned to present a petition with 27,000 signatures calling for equal rights for same-sex parents in Ireland to Harris today. 

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