Supreme Court refuses to hear case of transgender man seeking to be called ‘father’ on baby’s birth certificate

Freddy McConnell argues making him register as child’s mother breaches his human rights around privacy and family life

Tom Batchelor
Monday 16 November 2020 18:07
Freddy McConnell argues making him register as the child’s mother on the birth certificate breaches his human rights around privacy and family life
Freddy McConnell argues making him register as the child’s mother on the birth certificate breaches his human rights around privacy and family life

A transgender man who gave birth has failed to persuade Supreme Court justices to consider a case that would have allowed him to be officially registered as the child’s “father” or “parent”.

Freddy McConnell, who argues making him register as the child’s mother on the birth certificate breaches his human rights around privacy and family life, lost a Court of Appeal challenge in April and subsequently asked the UK’s highest court to hear his case.

But a Supreme Court spokeswoman said on Monday that justices had refused to give Mr McConnell permission to mount a further legal challenge because his case did not raise an “arguable point of law” which “ought to be considered”.

The journalist, who is in his thirties, was biologically able to get pregnant and give birth but was legally a man when the child was born.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, had initially ruled against Mr McConnell after a High Court hearing in 2019.

He concluded that people who had given birth were legally mothers, regardless of their gender, and said there was a “material difference between a person's gender and their status as a parent”.

Three appeal judges, including Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, and the most senior judge in England and Wales, upheld Sir Andrew's decision in April.

They said the issue involved complicated “interlinked” legislation and any reform of the law was a matter for Parliament.

A registrar told him that the law required people who give birth to be registered as mothers, and he took legal action against the General Register Office, which administers the registration of births and deaths in England and Wales.

Lawyers said the child would be the first person born in England and Wales not to legally have a mother had Mr McConnell won his fight.

Speaking in April, Laura Russell, of LGBT+ campaign group Stonewall, told The Independent that she was “incredibly disappointed” to hear that Mr McConnell had not been successful.

“Once again, the courts have missed a vital opportunity to send a positive message that recognises all parents, including LGBT+ parents, for who they are,” she said.

“This is another example of how current legislation contradicts the fragile equality trans people currently have, where they can have full recognition on some legal documents, but not on others.”

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