Lesbian couple are first to jointly sign birth certificate

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A lesbian couple who had a child through sperm donation have become the first gay couple to both be named on their child’s birth certificate.

Natalie Woods, 38, and Elizabeth Knowles, 47, from Brighton, are the first to take advantage of new legislation granting gay parents the right.

Their daughter, Lily-May Betty Woods, was born to Ms Woods, who works for Brighton’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Switchboard, earlier this month. She was conceived using a registered sperm donor.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2008 removes the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ from the birth certificate and instead gives spaces for the names of two parents.

Before the law changed, couples in Ms Woods and Ms Knowles’ situation had to go to court for the non-biological parent to be recognised.

For those in a civil partnerships who have a child with donor sperm, the non-biological parent is now automatically recorded on the birth certificate unless they make a written objection.

Lesbians who have IVF treatment can nominate their partner as a second parent, regardless of whether they are in a civil partnership or not.

The Daily Telegraph reports that after signing the register, Ms Woods said: “It is fantastic, quite a milestone. Compared to having to go through the courts this is really straightforward and the way it should be.

“We started forward on this journey together so it is fitting that we can both sign the register.

“It’s also good that we don’t have any of the worries and concerns of me being the only legal parent.

“The fact that same-sex parents can both be on the birth certificate shows our kind of family is becoming more acceptable.”

Ms Wood added that the couple had faced some unpleasant remarks for their decision to bring up a child together.

She said: “A child needs unconditional love and that is what Betty and I offer Lily-May in spades.

“Sadly some people don’t understand that – there have been a few homophobic comments here and there and my parents do not have a part in my life because of my sexuality.

“They are missing out on getting to know a fabulous beautiful baby.”

Another recent change in the law means that gay male couples will find it easier to be recognised as the parents of children born to surrogate mothers.

Before this month, only heterosexual married parents of children born to a surrogate mother could obtain a parental order making them legal parents of such children but the change on April 6th gave this right to gay couples.

Gay male couples were already able to have children through surrogates and go through the lengthy adoption process but the change makes it easier and faster for them. It also applies to opposite-sex unmarried couples.

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