Law-drafting time has been signed off for amendments to be made to legislation which refers to parental rights and currently means that same-sex parents are forced to fight via the courts for responsibility and, in some cases, to be on their child’s birth certificate.
Deputy Louise Doublet has welcomed the move but said she intends to make sure any changes that are proposed are fit for purpose and meet the needs of the different types of families who make up Jersey’s community.
The changes are also due to create provision for those with children born via a surrogate to become their legal parents without having to go through lengthy and costly legal processes through the UK court system.
‘The need for change in this area was identified back in 2018 as part of the Children’s Legislation Transformation Programme,’ said Deputy Doublet.
‘However, by the summer of 2019 no law had been lodged. Around this time I was approached separately by two married lesbian couples who had recently had children. They told me of the cost and stress involved in getting court orders for parental responsibility, or having to adopt their own child. In the UK, two married mothers are able to register as the two parents of their child, when registering the child's birth.
‘At a time when our own laws state that discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation is illegal, I was disappointed that this situation was not being urgently addressed. I continued to campaign for change and eventually this matter was prioritised.’
She added: ‘I am grateful that it is now being progressed. I will be closely scrutinising the draft law to ensure that it is fit for purpose and fulfils the needs of children and different types of families.’
Two Islanders affected by the law as it stands currently also recently backed the move for legislation to be changed. They said it would remove the financial pressures and stress of having to go to court and would show that Jersey was ‘inclusive and recognises the rights of all families’.
Fiona Mackinnon-Fox also told the JEP how her family had had to endure a ‘horrible’ court case so that her wife could be named on their son’s birth certificate and said it was already hard enough for same-sex couples to have a child in Jersey let alone having to fight for parental rights.