Law report: Transsexual cannot be registered as father of child

LAW REPORT: 24 April 1997

X,Y and Z v United Kingdom; European Court of Human Rights; 22 April 1997

The refusal to allow a female-to-male transsexual to be registered as the father on the birth certificate of a child born to his partner by artificial insemination by donor was not a violation of the right to respect family life provided by article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled by a majority that there had been no violation of article 8 of the Convention, and that it was not necessary to consider the complaint in relation to article 14 of the Convention taken together with article 8.

Article 8 provides:

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. 2. There shall be no interference by a

public authority with the exercise of

this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratice society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 14 provides:

The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

The applicant X was a female-to-male transsexual who had been living in a permanent and stable relationship with a woman, Y, since 1979. In October 1992 Y gave birth to Z, who had been conceived though artificial insemination by donated sperm (AID).

X was told before Z's birth that the Registrar General was of the opinion that, for the purposes of registration, only a biological man could be regarded as a father. Z could, however, lawfully bear X's surname.

The European Court of Human Rights found that article 8 was applicable because de facto family ties linked the three applicants.

Although it had not been suggested that the amendment to the law sought by the applicants would be harmful to Z's interests or those of children conceived by AID in general, it was not clear that it would necessarily be advantageous to them.

The court considered that the state might justifiably be cautious about changing the law, since amendment might have undesirable or unforeseen ramifications for children such as Z, and implications in other areas of family law.

The law might be open to criticism on the ground of inconsistency if a transsexual could legally be a "father" while still being treated as female for other legal purposes, such as marriage to a man.

The disadvantages suffered by the applicants because of the refusal to recognise X as Z's legal "father" had to be balanced against those general interests.

Given the complex scientific, legal, moral and social issues raised by transsexuality, in respect of which there was no generally shared approach among the contracting states, article 8 could not, in the present context, be taken to imply an obligation on the United Kingdom formally to recognise as the father of a child a person who was not the biological father.

The fact that the law of the United Kingdom did not allow special legal recognition of the relationship between X and Z did not, therefore, amount to a failure to respect family life within the meaning of article 8.

Since the complaint under article 14 was tantamount to a restatement of that under article 8, and raised no separate issue, it was not necessary to examine it separately.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea