What if you had no legal rights to your child? This is a reality for new LGBTQ parents in Ontario. If a lesbian couple choose to have a child with a known male donor, the male donor is considered the father not the lesbian partner of the birth mother. In contrast, heterosexual couples do not face this complication.
What complications arise?
If the birth mother and child experience health complications during labour, the known male donor will be contacted instead of the partner of the birthmother. Similarly, if the mother dies in labour, her same -sex partner will not be permitted to take the child home, rather the known male donor will be considered the legal parent of the child.
For a lesbian couple, the birthmother will be deemed the mother of the child immediately but her same -sex partner must wait 21 days before legally adopting the child; within this time frame, the known male donor can choose to become the legal parent of the child. After a child is born, the same – sex partner of the birthmother must obtain a court date and choose if she would like to adopt the child and be declared a legal parent.
Same – sex partners can also find themselves faced with adversity when trying to access parental benefits. Some workplaces will not recognize the same-sex non-birthmother until they have legally been deemed a parent. The legal process of becoming a legal parent can stretch over six months. Within this time frame, the known male donor can choose to opt-out of the adoption agreement.
This proposed law not only aims to allow same-sex couples to obtain equal rights as heterosexual couples but also allow for three parents to have legal access to the child. For instance, a gay couple may ask a lesbian couple to act as a surrogate and agree to allow the mother who carries the child to term to also have legal rights to the child along with the gay couple.
Despite the progress towards equality, there are still many individuals who believe that the biological parent (the known male donors) should always have legal rights over their biological children. Others suggest determining who has legal rights over the child should only be addressed after childbirth as parents feel differently once they see the physical child.
In opposition, the LGBTQ community argues that not allowing same -sex parents to have legal rights over their children is a form of blatant discrimination. It is argued that heterosexual couples do not need to go to court to obtain legal rights to their children; they are just given at birth. It is also argued that the wait for non-biological parents to obtain legal rights over their children is stressful as the legal process does not ensure legal rights over the child.
How do you feel about this new proposal?
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Points of Discussion:
- Does your experience as a parent make you sympathize or criticize the new proposal?
- Does your country/province have different rights for the LGBTQ community?