A sperm donor who insisted same-sex couples should not raise children conceived with his sperm has won a lawsuit against a fertility clinic that used his donations to help queer families.
Neil Gaskell, 49, began donating sperm at CARE Fertility Clinic in Manchester in 2010, in exchange for a discount on IVF for his own family.
But Gaskell had conditions on who he wanted to help – he insisted on his consent form that he didn’t want any of his donations to go to same-sex couples or single mothers.
Claiming he is not “homophobic”, Gaskell told The Mail on Sunday: “I accept that some people will find this uncomfortable and that people might think I’m homophobic, or against the idea of single mothers.
“But that couldn’t be further from the truth. This wasn’t about discriminating against same-sex couples, it wasn’t for religious reasons and I don’t accept that it’s bigotry. I think about these families – these children – every day, all the time.
“But you can’t argue with biology. It takes a man and a woman to create a child, and it’s my view that if children are being born with my sperm they must have a mother and a father.
“I worried about how they’d be brought up, whether they’d be bullied in the playground, or about having two mums. I didn’t want that for my children. I accept that’s going to be divisive, but it’s how I feel.”
But in September, 2016, Gaskell receiving a call from CARE informing him that “mistakes had been made” and inviting him in for a meeting. The fertility clinic then told him that some of his sperm donations had gone to same-sex couples.
He also discovered that despite his consent form stipulating that his donations would help a maximum of 10 families, the clinic had actually helped 11.
Although studies have found that same-sex couples make brilliant parents, are less constrained by gender norms and 2019 research from the Netherlands found that children raised by same-sex couples even achieved better test results at school, Gaskell was so upset that his sperm had been given to same-sex parents that he entered into a four-year legal battle with the fertility clinic.
The battle culminated in Gaskell winning his case, and being awarded a five-figure settlement.
Gaskell donated sperm before the Equality Act came into force in October 2010, protecting LGBT+ people from discrimination, but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) confirmed to The Mirror that discriminating against same-sex couples would still have been against its code of practice at the time, and said that the fertility clinic should never have accepted Gaskell as a donor.
A spokesperson for the HFEA said: “Lessons have been learned and the clinic now ensures that all treatments are conducted in line with our Code of Practice and the Equality Act 2010, to ensure that no one receiving treatment is discriminated against because of a protected characteristic, including sexual orientation.”