A newlywed mum from Donegal who has had a baby with her wife in the UK has been denied an Irish passport for her 11-week-old son because of her gender.
Katie Gallagher, 34, received a letter from the Irish Passport and Visa Office bluntly refusing a passport for her son Griffin because she is technically not considered either his mother or his father, despite Katie’s own fertilised egg being implanted in her wife’s womb as part of an IVF process.
Katie and her wife Holly Groombridge, 31, who live in Suffolk, underwent two attempts at IVF before a successful implantation of Katie’s egg and an anonymous sperm donor, who was sourced through an American sperm bank.
Because UK-born Holly gave birth to Griffin last August, she is automatically listed as the mother on the birth cert, leaving Katie to be recognised under the heading of “parent”.
Irish laws define parents as only mother or father and offer no alternative title.
A letter from the Passport Office, while recognising Kate as an Irish citizen, also said: “However, for the purposes of Irish law and in particular in this case, for the purposes of the 1956 Act, a parent is understood to mean either the ‘mother’ or ‘father’ of the child.
“For the purposes of Irish law, the mother of a child is the person who gives birth to the child or a female adopter of the child. In this case, as Ms Groombridge gave birth to your son, she is, therefore, regarded as the mother for the purposes of Irish law.
“As Ms Groombridge is not an Irish citizen, your son, Griffin, cannot be regarded as an Irish citizen.”
Katie who was born in Gweedore, Co Donegal, but was raised in Ashbourne, Co Meath, is determined to fight tooth and nail for her son’s right to an Irish passport.
Katie, who married Holly just last week after a six-year relationship, said she is heartbroken that she cannot bring her son home to see her parents because he has no passport.
She said she will now have to get Griffin’s passport from the UK, which recognises single-sex relationships and surrogacy births.
The couple says that, since they began highlighting this issue, they have been contacted by numerous same-sex couples in the UK who also cannot get an Irish passport for their children because of the Irish laws.
“We are just so frustrated and heartbroken that we can’t get an Irish passport for our son because of an antiquated law passed in 1956,” said Katie.
Griffin was born on August 18 and Katie almost immediately applied for an Irish passport for her son.
“I applied for an Irish passport and on the form it states that if a child is born abroad, there must be an Irish parent, which I am. It doesn’t state mother and father, just parent.
“By law, Holly is down on Griffin’s birth cert as his mother because she gave birth to him and I am down as a parent.
“However Irish law still only recognises a male and female parent and this hasn’t been addressed despite the historic same-sex marriage referendum. The 1956 law still remains and because of that, I’ve been denied the right to give my son an Irish passport and bring him home under the Irish banner to see his grandparents in Ashbourne and all his family.
The Department of Justice said that, under Irish law, the mother of a child is the woman who gives birth to the child. This principle was confirmed in 2014 by the Supreme Court and it applies even if the child has been conceived using a donated egg.
“The Act makes provision for parentage to be assigned retrospectively, through a court-based procedure, to the second member of a couple who have a donor-conceived child, but only where certain conditions are fulfilled,” said a department spokesperson.
“Where the conditions are not fulfilled, parentage will be assigned under current law, which means that only the woman who gives birth and the biological father may be included on the birth certificate. The position is the same for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.”
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