December 15, 2009
Irish Court Grants Visitation to Sperm Donor
CBS News reports on a recent decision from the Irish supreme court:
The Irish Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a gay man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple should be permitted to see his 3-year-old son regularly - in part because Ireland's constitution doesn't recognize the lesbians as a valid family unit.
The ruling was a legal first in Ireland, where homosexuality was outlawed until 1993 and gay couples are denied many rights given to married couples. Critics contend the case highlights how Ireland's conservative Catholic 1937 constitution conflicts with contemporary European norms and fails to address the reality that hundreds of gay couples in Ireland have children.
In their unanimous decision, the five judges of Ireland's ultimate constitutional authority said a lower court erred by trying to apply the European Convention on Human Rights in favor of the lesbian couple. The Supreme Court concluded that when the two are in conflict, the Irish constitution is superior to European human rights law.
In her written judgment, Supreme Court Justice Susan Denham said the lesbian couple provide a loving, stable home for their son - but that the constitution defines parents as a married man and woman, and gays are not permitted to marry in Ireland.
She said Irish law does identify the sperm donor as the father, and he therefore had a right to have a relationship with his son.
"There is benefit to a child, in general, to have the society of his father," Denham wrote. "I am satisfied that the learned High Court judge gave insufficient weight to this factor."
Read the full article here.
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