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Birth registration and same-sex parenting in the UK and Canada: some unanswered questions

posted on 2023-06-08, 20:54 authored by Philip Bremner
This paper seeks to provoke discussion about what society is aiming to achieve through systems of birth registration with respect to same-sex parenting particularly following assisted reproduction. It considers the position in the UK and contrasts this with various jurisdictions in Canada, which adopt differing approaches to birth registration in this context. Since the adoption of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, it has been possible for two female parents to appear on a child’s birth certificate immediately following birth and for two male parents to be registered following the court granting a parental order in their favour. A number of issues remain unaddressed, however. For example, the terminology used in birth certificates needs to be explored further. Why are we reluctant to record a child as having two mothers or two fathers? There also needs to be greater discussion about the number of adults that can be recorded on a birth certificate. A number of jurisdictions in Canada allow more than two adults to be registered on a child’s birth certificate in order to reflect the parenting reality in some same-sex families. This raises questions about what the functions and legal effects of birth certificates should be. This is relevant in both a domestic and international setting, where a court declaration of parentage in addition to the birth certificate may be required before recognising the parent-child relationships in same-sex families when crossing national borders. Rather than reaching any firm conclusions on these points, the intention of this paper is to highlight these potentially controversial issues in the hope of stimulating debate around a topic that is of considerable importance in the lives of increasing numbers of same-sex families.


Publication status

  • Published

Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

Socio-Legal Studies Annual Conference 2015, University of Warwick

Event location

University of Warwick

Event type


Event date

31st March - 2nd April 2015

Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

Full text available

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Peer reviewed?

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