Lesbian couples can now enter both their names on the birth certificate of a child born to one of them through fertility treatment under new rules implemented this week.
‘Gay rights’ groups have welcomed the change, but critics say it places the wishes of adults ahead of the welfare of children.
The change, hailed by the Government as a “step forward” for equality, was approved last year when Parliament passed the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.
Home Office Minister Lord Brett said: “This positive change means that, for the first time, female couples who have a child using fertility treatment have the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts to be shown as parents in the birth registration.”
Ruth Hunt of homosexual lobby group Stonewall said: “As the law improves to provide further equality, knowing your new rights will help people make full use of the services they’re entitled to.
“And, if discrimination occurs, the same knowledge can help them demand fair treatment.”
However, Labour MP Geraldine Smith said the move was “unfair” on children.
“To have a birth certificate with two mothers and no father is just madness”, she said.
“I think it’s putting the interests of adults first, rather than the welfare of the unborn child, and that’s contrary to the way the system has always worked in the past.”
Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said: “If we want to build a stable society, a mother and father and children works as the best model.
“We should be striving towards repairing and reinforcing marriage. I think this move sends out the exact opposite message.”
Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: “It’s a peculiarly postmodern way of looking at the world, with almost any family arrangement seen as equally valid.
“My criticism of this is that effectively it creates a legal fiction around the parentage of children. The names of people on the birth certificate will have no relationship at all to the child.
“It will create a legal minefield when it comes to issues like maintenance and inheritance.
“The best interests of the child should always take precedence over parental choice. It’s tragic that we are creating life in these kind of circumstances when there’s a huge amount that could be done for existing children, in terms of adoption.”