'Father' to go from birth certificates

Out of the picture ... naming a child's father will no longer be required for NSW birth certificates.

Heath Gilmore
May 18, 2008

A CONTROVERSIAL new bill that will remove the word "father" from birth certificates to recognise lesbian couples who have children through IVF will be put before NSW Parliament.

Fifty laws across NSW covering the Local Government Act, Industrial Relations Act and the constitution will be amended to include new parental presumption protection for female same-sex couples.

The bill equates the position of a lesbian partner of a woman who has a child after becoming pregnant by a fertilisation procedure, other than sexual intercourse, with the position of a married woman's husband. Lesbian parents will see expressions such as "birth mother" replace "mother" and "both parents" to replace "the father and the mother" on birth certificates.

Lesbian parents will also be given protection for their children under workers' compensation, inheritance law and parent-teacher nights at school. Schools will also be forced to recognise both partners in a lesbian couple as "parents".

However, a number of NSW Coalition MPs have deep moral concerns about the bill. On Tuesday the Coalition voted to give members a conscience vote on the issue. Shadow Attorney-General Greg Smith said some MPs were concerned that the role of fatherhood was undermined by the bill, which is expected to be debated this parliamentary session. It is understood Mr Smith proposed the conscience vote.

Minister for Women Verity Firth said the Opposition's decision to hold a conscience vote on laws to give equal rights to the children of same-sex couples was evidence of the Opposition's lack of leadership.

The conservative Australian Family Association is campaigning against the change.

Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Emily Gray said the changes would give children added emotional and financial stability.

Source: The Sun-Herald