Same-sex couple make history in New Zealand by both being named 'mother' on baby's birth certificate

A same-sex couple have made history by having both parents listed as ‘mother’ on their daughter’s birth certificate (posed by models) [Photo: Getty]

A same-sex couple have made history in New Zealand by both being named on their baby’s birth certificate as ‘mother’, after their daughter was conceived of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Parents, Jess and Stacy, both wanted to be named as mother on their daughter Evie’s birth certificate, but having this request was originally refused.

Evie was conceived using donor sperm and IVF.

Disappointed the couple complained to the Human Rights Commission, who raised it with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

With the help of their lawyer, Stewart Dalley, they were able to successfully argue that they had been discriminated against on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation.

As a result, the Department of Internal Affairs issued Jess and Stacey with a new certificate listing them both as “mother”.

Not only is this a first for New Zealand, but the Department of Internal Affairs also plans to apply the changes to other parents.

From now on, parents registering children conceived using ART will be able to select “mother”, “father” or “parent” for the non-gestational parent.

In addition to this, all parents registering a baby will be able to choose one of the three options, despite the method of conception.

An Internal Affairs spokesperson confirmed the changes to Newstalk ZB: “The change will enable two female parents to both be recorded on a birth certificate as the child’s ‘Mother’, where that child was conceived using assisted reproductive techniques [such as artificial insemination].

“Previously if the mother married or entered into a civil union or de facto relationship with a woman who consented to the mother undergoing the procedure, the details of the mother’s partner could only be recorded as the child’s ‘parent’ on birth certificates.”

In a first for New Zealand, both parents are listing as ‘mother’ on the birth certificate [Photo: Getty]

Here in the UK, according to Gov.uk same-sex female couples can include both their names on their child’s birth certificate when registering the birth.

When it comes to married or civil-partner parents in female same-sex couples either parent can register the birth on her own if the mother has a child by donor insemination or fertility treatment and she was married or in a civil partnership at the time of the treatment.

When a mother isn’t married or in a civil partnership, her partner can be seen as the child’s second parent if both women are treated together in the UK by a licensed clinic, have made a ‘parenthood agreement.’

However, the site states that for both parents’ details to be recorded on the birth certificate, they must do one of the following:

  • register the birth jointly
  • complete a ‘Statutory declaration of acknowledgement of parentage’ form and one parent takes the signed form when she registers the birth
  • get a document from the court (eg a court order) giving the second female parent parental responsibility and one parent shows the document when she registers the birth

Same-sex male couples must get a parental order from the court before they can be registered as parents.

Commenting on the legal position surrounding parentage registration for the children of lesbian parents Paul Lancaster, Family Law Expert at Blacks Solicitors LLP told Yahoo Style UK:  “In the UK, two mothers can both register the birth of their child and therefore both be named on the child’s birth certificate.”

“However, the woman who gave birth to the child is named as “mother” on the birth certificate, whilst her partner in the relationship is named as “parent”. Both parents will have the same legal status as heterosexual parents however, Jess and Stacy, the mothers in New Zealand, may pave the way for a shift in the way the UK registers parentage for the children of lesbian parents.”

Despite the fact that same-sex couples have the same maternity and paternity rights as heterosexual parents, the issue can some times be confusing.

For help in wading through the jargon, check out our myth-busting guide to the maternity and paternity rights of same-sex parents. 

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