A couple living in Gibraltar are desperately trying to change the law before their child is born so they can both be recognised as their baby’s parents.
Natalie and Katie Perez-Muldoon are expecting their first child next month – but as the law currently stands, only Natalie, who is carrying the baby, will be legally recognised as the child’s mother.
“As a lesbian married couple, we jointly and lovingly embarked on the IVF process to grow our family,” Natalie explained on Facebook. “It is absolutely heartbreaking, the thought that our family is not afforded the same legal standing as heterosexual families here in Gibraltar.”
Although the law was altered in the UK 12 years ago it was never advanced in Gibraltar, which is a self-governing British territory.
Because of this, there is no provision in the country’s Births and Deaths Registration Act for same-sex parents to be recognised on the birth certificate.
“This means that in the event that Natalie was taken ill and incapacitated, the decision-making process would not fall to me, it would fall to her parents, and my parenting rights are non-existent,” Katie told the Gibraltar Chronicle.
According to the paper, the only way for both mothers to be legally recognised is extremely complicated: first the baby would have to be registered under a one-parent household, then Natalie would have to give up all her parental rights so they both could embark on an adoption process.
This would involve character references, visits from social services and an appearance before the court to prove that they are fit and proper parents to their own child.
“This is absurd and totally unacceptable in what is meant to be a country that is committed to ‘identifying and eradicating discrimination’ in order ‘to build a fairer society,'” Natalie said.
The Gibraltan government is well aware of gap in the law; both opposition leaders have reached out to express their support, and draft legislation to correct the problem has been ready for eighteen long months.
But with four weeks to go until the baby is born, the couple can’t keep waiting for the “discriminatory” law to change.
“This can’t be allowed to be put on the back burner for any longer,” Natalie urged.