Re G; Re Z (Children: Sperm Donors: Leave to Apply for Children Act Orders): essential ‘biological fathers’ and invisible ‘legal parents’

Alan Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This commentary examines the language used by Baker J in Re G; Re Z (Children: Sperm Donors: Leave to Apply for Children Act Orders), a dispute between lesbian couples and ‘known donors’. It suggests that his heteronormative language emphasised the importance of the ‘biological father’ at the expense of the non-biological ‘parent’. This occurred despite both members of the lesbian couple now being ‘legal parents’ owing to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. It is suggested that the role of the ‘parent’ in lesbian-led families lacks the fall back, ‘common-sense’ social construction possessed by the traditional gendered parenting roles (of ‘mother’ and ‘father’); and that this role of ‘parent’ has not been fully explored or developed in judicial discourse and hence is not being given the same weight or consideration as those gendered roles. Therefore, it is suggested that the use of the gender-neutral language of ‘parent’ can result in diminishing the importance of this parenting role. Furthermore, while the legal status of ‘parenthood’ clearly has important symbolic value for many lesbian couples and confers parental responsibilities and rights, the gendered roles and the traditional ‘nuclear family’ model still provide the framework in which the activity of ‘parenting’ is being constructed and understood by the courts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-251
Number of pages14
JournalChild and Family Law Quarterly
Volume26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2014

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title = "Re G; Re Z (Children: Sperm Donors: Leave to Apply for Children Act Orders): essential ‘biological fathers’ and invisible ‘legal parents’",
abstract = "This commentary examines the language used by Baker J in Re G; Re Z (Children: Sperm Donors: Leave to Apply for Children Act Orders), a dispute between lesbian couples and ‘known donors’. It suggests that his heteronormative language emphasised the importance of the ‘biological father’ at the expense of the non-biological ‘parent’. This occurred despite both members of the lesbian couple now being ‘legal parents’ owing to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. It is suggested that the role of the ‘parent’ in lesbian-led families lacks the fall back, ‘common-sense’ social construction possessed by the traditional gendered parenting roles (of ‘mother’ and ‘father’); and that this role of ‘parent’ has not been fully explored or developed in judicial discourse and hence is not being given the same weight or consideration as those gendered roles. Therefore, it is suggested that the use of the gender-neutral language of ‘parent’ can result in diminishing the importance of this parenting role. Furthermore, while the legal status of ‘parenthood’ clearly has important symbolic value for many lesbian couples and confers parental responsibilities and rights, the gendered roles and the traditional ‘nuclear family’ model still provide the framework in which the activity of ‘parenting’ is being constructed and understood by the courts.",
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