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02 SEP 2009

Equal birth registration rights for female couples

Female couples now have the same rights as heterosexual couples when registering the birth of a child conceived as a result of fertility treatment.

From 1 September, changes to the Registration of Births and Deaths Regulations 1987 mean female civil partners who use fertility treatment to conceive a child will be treated in the same way as married couples, with both female parents' names able to be included on the birth certificate.

In addition, female couples not in a civil partnership but receiving fertility treatment may also be registered as parents in the same way as unmarried heterosexual couples.

In both cases, providing relevant conditions are met, the female partner of the mother can be recorded as 'parent' in the birth or still-birth registration and on any certificates issued.

Before this change, the mother's female partner could not be registered as a parent.

The changes to the regulations were approved by Registrar General James Hall earlier this year following Royal Assent for new parenthood provisions contained in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008. The Act's provisions only apply to female couples who have fertility treatment on or after April 6 2009.

Gay rights organisation Stonewall welcomed the change. Head of Policy and Research Ruth Hunt said: 'Now lesbian couples in the UK who make a considered decision to start a loving family will finally be afforded equal access to services they help fund as taxpayers.

'So life for lesbian families isn't only fairer - it's also much easier.'

Neale Grearson, a family partner at Kester Cunningham John solicitors, agrees this is a logical and fair step forward: "Over recent years, the area of family law has taken huge strides forward to reflect the diversity of relationships in our society and bring greater fairness to the law.

"This change is a further welcome development and acknowledges the vital role both parents play in the upbringing of a child, whatever the relationship between the parents."

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