A gay Irish couple living in Canada have vowed to fight for their parental rights here after they discovered they could not get an Irish passport for their son.
Jay O’Callaghan (34) from Baldoyle and his husband, Aaron O’Bryan (35), also from north Dublin, were left reeling when they discovered they are not legally recognised as parents of 11-month-old Jake.
The couple, who both work in TV, moved to Toronto seven years ago but came home to tie the knot after the marriage equality referendum. They decided to start a family back in Canada and Jake was born via surrogacy.
But what they presumed would be the simple process of applying for an Irish passport for him, turned into an ordeal which has spurred the pair into action.
Jay told Dublin Gazette: “Canadian law allows for both fathers to be named on the birth cert, giving us both legal rights to our son. So we have the most valuable document you can have, and just presumed it would be the same in Ireland.
“Irish law doesn’t recognise same-sex parents, it has to be a man and a woman. We voted overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage, but the rest of the Act hasn’t been sorted yet.”
The Children and Family Relationships Act was signed in 2015, but the parts of the Bill which deal with parentage through donor-assisted reproduction have yet to be enacted.
Last week, Minister for Health Simon Harris revealed he’d sought approval to draft a standalone piece of legislation to close a loophole and deal with the parentage issue, but it only recognises same-sex female parents.
Jay said: “I wanted to have an Irish passport for my son – he has two Irish parents. But this is about much more than a passport. He has a Canadian passport, but he should have dual citizenship.
“The passport office finally got back to me and said the only route open to us was to appear in front of an Irish court and produce DNA tests to prove one of us is Jake’s biological father.
“The whole declaration of parentship is so daunting, you have to go up against the State solicitor. Then, after a costly court action, the other one has to apply for guardianship – of their own son! It’s deplorable.
“We don’t want to take a DNA test. We never really wanted to find out who the biological dad is; we are both his dads. It’s left a very sour taste in our mouth.”
The family travel home to visit family four times a year, and Jay said, despite feeling let down over the passport and parentage issue, it won’t stop them.
He said: “We’re coming over for Jake’s first birthday; it’s very important to us that he gets to know his family. Canada has been very good to us, but our hearts are in Ireland.
“But the more we get into this, the more frustrating it gets. We just want to see this law passed and done properly so that it’s inclusive of everyone.”