Legal recognition for same-sex parents in Queen’s Speech

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The government has announced in the Queen’s Speech a major change in the status of gay and lesbian couples who have a child through donated sperm, eggs or embryos.

Her Majesty opened Gordon Brown’s first Parliamentary session as Prime Minister this morning, and also revealed plans for a draft bill on citizenship and the establishment of a new agency to increase the number of affordable homes.

The new Human Tissues and Embryos Bill, one of 28 bills announced today, has angered “family values” campaigners as it will establish equal parenting rights between gay and straight couples.

Gay and lesbian couples will become the legal parents of a child conceived through donated sperm, eggs or embryos.

There will also be a relaxing of the rules about animal-human hybrid embryos for scientists working towards a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The bill bans choosing embryos by gender and tightens screening embryos for disease.

The Queen announced a draft bill on citizenship and further constitutional reform.

On housing, in addition to the formation of the Homes and Communities Agency there will be a reform of the planning laws.

By 2015, parents in England and Wales will be required by law to help make sure their children stay in education or training until the age of 18 and could be fined if their children do not comply.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said: “This bill is a key part of the Government’s commitment to achieve world-class levels of skills and to bring about greater economic productivity and dramatic improvements to individual life chances.”

The proposal has been criticised for its reliance on fines and compulsion, with campaigners pointing out that parents on benefit are unlikely to be able to pay.

Today was the 53rd time Her Majesty has opened Parliament.

She has missed the State Opening on only two occasions, 1959 and 1963, when she was pregnant with Princes Andrew and Edward respectively.

To read a full list of bills click here.