Lesbian women in civil partnerships who use IVF to conceive children will now be legally recognised on birth certificates.
The new law, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, brings the UK’s fertility laws in line with equality legislation by giving same-sex couples the same rights to parenthood as heterosexual couples when registering their child’s birth.
This new right was introduced as part of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which was approved by the House of Commons last year.
The law can also apply to lesbian couples not in civil partnerships if consent is given by both partners.
It is set to be expanded in April 2010, when male couples will also be able to apply for a Parental Order to be recognised as the parents of children born through surrogacy.
LGBT Labour co-chair Katie Hanson welcomed the change, saying: “This new law means lesbian civil partners wanting to raise children conceived through IVF will automatically have the same legal standing and protection as heterosexual couples.”
The Act also means that any person can be named as the second parent, unless they refuse to give their consent or are a close blood relative.
The named second parent has legal obligations, including potentially being pursued for financial contributions to the child’s upbringing.
However, the new law cannot be applied retrospectively and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority advised lesbian couples to postpone IVF treatment until April 6th to take advantage of the changes.