Payment order for sperm donor

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The Independent Online

A man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple yesterday told of his anger at being made to pay child support.

Andy Bathie, 37, a firefighter from Enfield, north London, claims he provided the sperm after being assured by Sharon and Terri Arnold he would have no personal or financial involvement in the children's upbringing.

He said he is being forced by the Child Support Agency to pay thousands of pounds in child maintenance for the boy and girl the couple had.

And he said that he cannot afford to have children with his own wife due to the financial implications.

Mr Bathie, who said he donated as a friend, rather than going through a clinic, wants a change in the law so he is not recognised as a legal parent to the children.

Unaware of the legal pitfalls, he was contacted by the Child Support Agency in November last year about payments.

Mr Bathie said he reacted with "shock, anger, despair".

He said: "I don't have any particular ill will. It's the fact that I still even now don't see why I should have to pay for another couple's children."

Mr Bathie was approached by the couple five years ago after they "married" in a civil ceremony.

At the time he was not planning to have children with his partner but he has since married someone else.

He said: "I am already paying for a family... I'm not a high-flying city banker."

A spokesman for Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said: "The law says that men donating sperm through licensed fertility clinics are not the legal father of any child born through that donation.

"Men giving out their sperm in any other way - such as via internet arrangements - are legally the father of any children born with all the responsibilities that carries."

A spokeswoman for CSA said: "Unless the child is legally adopted, both biological parents are financially responsible for their child - the Child Support Agency legislation is not gender or partnership based.

"Only anonymous sperm donors at licensed centres are exempt from being treated as the legal father of a child born as a result of their donation.

"This does not apply to men who donate sperm as part of a personal arrangement."

Ministers have drawn up fertility reforms giving equal parenting rights to same-sex couples who "marry" in a civil partnership.

This means they will be recognised as the legal parents of children conceived through sperm donation.

The change comes too late for Mr Bathie however, although he is now pushing for an amendment to make the laws retrospective.

Phil Willis, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, is chairman of the Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee which deals with human fertilisation and research.

He said: "The FAE have licensed clinics and donor banks which would protect you from further legal damages.

"People should only donate sperm to registered clinics and those who wish to receive donors should only do it through legal clinics.

"There is new legislation in the House of Lords literally today which is trying to recognise same-sex couples and give legal entitlement to IVF."

Mr Willis said the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology act had a clause within it which said you had to have a father - a clause he feels is regarded as a red light for single women and lesbian women.