Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

High Court rules that Same Sex families exist

April 16th, 2008 · 20 Comments · Lesbian, LGBT, Same Sex Partnerships

In a ruling before the High Court today a sperm donor was told he had no rights to guardianship or access to right to a child.

A gay man had provided sperm to a lesbian couple with no involvement anticipated. He changed his mind, was refused the access he wanted and had received a injunction preventing the couple travelling to Australia with the child.

Today Justice Hedigan ruled that he did not have a parental right and he went further in commenting on the de facto nature of a lesbian couple as a family and the need for legislation to ensure that the rights of all were protected.

He found that the welfare of the child was best served by the little boy continuing in the care, custody and guardianship of the lesbian couple and that the man should not get any court ordered access.

He also found that where a lesbian couple live together in a long term committed relationship, they could be regarded as being a de facto family and enjoy family rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

His remarks are significant in the run up to the publication of the heads of bill on Civil Partnership and the accompanying campaign for marriage. I can’t remember if a judge has previously commented on the need for the introduction of such legislation in a ruling before.

Update – Front page report by Carol Coulter and Mary Carolan in today’s Irish Times available free here.

…Mr Justice Hedigan said there was nothing in Irish law to suggest that a family of two women and a child “has any lesser right to be recognised as a de facto family than a family composed of a man and a woman unmarried to each other”.

He said the rights of a man who acted as a sperm donor were at least no greater than those of an unmarried father. In considering his application for guardianship the child’s welfare was the paramount consideration.

He believed there existed such personal ties between the couple and the child as to give rise to family rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which do not conflict with Irish law…

The gay man is believed to be planning an appeal to the Supreme Court – that will make for more interesting reading – not alone on the rights of sperm donors but also on the opinions of 3 or 5 of the most senior judges in the land on same sex relationships and families.



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