PARENTING plans developed before a child is born should not be legally enforceable and sperm donors should not have an automatic legal right to be on a birth certificate, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby says.
''The paramount consideration when providing parentage/parenting orders is to protect the best interests of the child, not the expectations or interests of parents,'' a senior policy adviser at the group, Senthorun Raj, said.
''[However], there needs to be greater consideration on whether it is appropriate to broaden the scope of parenting plans, to permit greater recognition of donor fathers who wish to have an ongoing parenting role.''
His comments come after the Herald revealed yesterday the first case in NSW in which a lesbian former partner of a woman is taking the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages and a sperm donor to court to force the removal of his name from a child's birth certificate despite him seeing the child fortnightly for the past nine years.
The case, before the NSW District Court today, highlights the inadequacy of laws dealing with multi-parent families.
Five years ago, the NSW Law Reform Commission recommended that the legal status of known sperm donors be reviewed to help stop court battles over access to children after they are born.
Sperm donors do not have automatic legal parenting status. In 2008 that right was given to the partners of lesbian mothers who conceived using a sperm donor.
The commission's 2006 recommendation said policymakers should consider whether to enable same-sex families to register parenting plans, the recognition of multiple legal parents and whether to enable donors to be named on a birth certificate, without attaching legal parental status to that act.
Mr Raj said one of the difficulties is that hospitals did not supply the available gender-neutral birth registration form.
''We have supported the mention of a donor father on a birth certificate, where all the parties consent. However, donor fathers should not have automatic rights to be listed without the consent of the parents,'' he said.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, said: ''The minister will consider all information at hand in determination of whether or not possible review of the legislation is appropriate or required.''
A spokesman for the shadow attorney-general, Greg Smith, said it was an issue for the shadow health minister, Andrew McDonald. Mr McDonald said it was a matter for Mr Smith.
Article: 26th May 2011 The Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au
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