An Irish gay couple are fighting to change a law stopping them from both having legal custody over their children.
Ranae Von Medin and Audrey Rooney are mothers to their two daughters, Ava, two, and Arya, three months old. They conceived them through reciprocal IVF. This is where one partner donates eggs and the other carries the child.
The pair also married in 2016. Despite this, the legal status of their family is still up in the air. Audrey, who donated the eggs, is technically not a parent under current Irish law.
However, the couple are fighting to change this. – and they hope to gain more.
Ranae spoke to Gay Star News about the petition: ‘These are our children we are talking about. That they are protected and safe and loved is my number one priority in life.
‘Right now they are not fully protected: they have only one legal parent (me) and the law needs to be changed to reflect the reality of the situation, which is that they have two parents who equally brought them into this world and who equally love, care and raise them.’
The problem arises with the proposed Children and Families Relationship Act, which was enacted in 2015. Amendments to the legislation will allow female couples who conceived in an Irish Fertility clinic to put both parents’ name on the birth certificate.
However, this leaves out many LGBTI families – including those who receive IVF treatment abroad. Reciprocal IVF is currently not available in Ireland.
The loophole in the law means Ranae would need to register as a single parent to get passports for her children.
The petition hopes to challenge Simon Harris, the Irish Minister for Health.
‘The failings of this legislation have been brought to their attention time and time again in recent months and they have chosen not to do anything about it – so they cannot claim ignorance any more,’ Ranae said to Gay Star News.
‘At this stage the ball is in their court. They can choose to draft legislation which is inclusive, or they can continue to willingly discriminate against us.’
Ranae and Audrey have a meeting scheduled with Fine Gael (the ruling party) politician Regina Doherty. Before meeting them, they would like to reach at least 10,000 signatures on the petition.
‘[People should] talk to their own circle of family and friends to help spread awareness of the situation that same-sex parents are in.
‘I think the general perception is that marriage equality granted us full equality. But that is far from the truth unfortunately.’