Irish couple Geraldine Rea and Niamh O’Sullivan have made history as the first same-sex couple in Ireland to both be recognised as the legal parents of their children from birth.
The Child and Family Relationships Act, which came into effect on 5 May 2020, allows same-sex female couples who conceived using a fertility clinic to both be named as legal parents on a child’s birth certificate.
Geraldine and Niamh’s legal recognition means that either one of them can take the children for vaccinations, give medical consent or give permissions at school.
Geraldine gave birth to their twin girls Réidín and Aoibhín in Cork seven weeks ago.
O’Sullivan told RTE News: “It’s amazing. Finally it’s a bit of equality.
“Why should we have to go to court to state that I am there if [Geraldine] was their birth mother? Why would I have to go to court? It’s just much easier that I don’t now have to go to court and prove myself to be their other parent – I just am!”
Geraldine added that the new process for legal recognition “makes it that little bit easier for us and for everyone else to come”.
Previously, same-sex parents in the Republic of Ireland had to re-register the birth of their children in a court to obtain legal recognition for both parents.
The Child and Family Relationships Act officially commenced in 2015, but only came into operation last year. In 2015, Ireland also made history by voting in favour of same-sex marriage in a referendum.
Officials in Ireland have recognised that while the Child and Family Relationships Act is a step forward in assuring the rights of LGBT+ parents, there are still many parents who won’t be covered by this legislation. For example, it doesn’t give any further rights or recognition for same-sex parents who adopt, use a surrogate to conceive, or don’t go through a clinic.
Paula Fagan, CEO of LGBT Ireland said in a statement: “We need further law reform in Ireland so that children can establish a legal parental relationship to both of their parents who care for them. This is in the best interest of children and needs to be urgently progressed.”
The former minister for health Simon Harris said the act marked “an important step towards equality in our country” but acknowledged “there’s more to do in this area”.