Lords ready for fight over gay parents

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Conservative peers and senior churchmen will this week attempt to block new legislation that will give more rights to lesbian and gay parents.

Leading gay rights opponent Lord Tebbit, a former Cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher, wants to defeat proposals that would allow two parents of the same sex to be listed on a child’s birth certificate.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill proposes new recognition of same-sex couples as legal parents of children conceived through the use of donated sperm, eggs or embryos.

A woman who gives birth and her civil partner will both be recognised as the parents of a child conceived through assisted reproduction.

Two men will be able to apply for a parental order to become parents of a child conceived through a surrogacy arrangement.

Lord Tebbit told the Daily Telegraph: “It is being driven by medical technologists and the politically correct lobby who want to get rid of the distinctions between male and females.

“There are a number of us who are anxious to ensure the new law continues to refer to fathers.”

Peers have criticised the removal of the reference in the previous 1990 Act to the child’s need for a father in the case of lesbian couples or single women receiving fertility treatment.

The Archbishop of York, another opponent of gay equality, said in a previous Lords debate on the Bill:

“The competing individualist arias of “I, I, I” and “me, me, me” provide the mood music for an individualism that posits the right of a wannabe parent over the welfare of a child.”

Gay equality organisation Stonewall said the proposed new rules would merely give legal status to gay couples that already exists for heterosexuals.

“At a time when three million children in this country are growing up in single-parent households, it seems odd there should be this obsession with a few hundred who have an opportunity to have a second loving parent,” said chief executive Ben Summerskill.

Today the Lords will discuss a change in abortion law.

Some peers want to remove a woman’s right to an abortion at any time in the pregnancy if the child she is carrying is disabled.