An Irish man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple has won the right to see the child.

The Supreme Court heard that the gay man donated sperm to the couple three years ago when they were friends.

He was supposed to act as an ‘uncle’ to the boy but the friendship broke down and he began legal action two years ago when he heard they planned to move to Australia.

A lower court had previously ruled that he was not entitled to access as the lesbian couple were regarded as a de facto family under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Irish Supreme Court ruled that while he was not entitled to custody of the boy, he had natural rights to see him.

Judge Susan Denham ruled that the child would benefit from a relationship with his biological father and said the lower court’s judge had given “insufficient” weight to this.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) expressed concern at the ruling, saying the lesbian couple had no legal protection.

Director Brian Sheehan said: “GLEN shares the court’s commitment that the paramount issue is the welfare of the child. The court made their judgement on that basis, granting access to the father. The court also recognised that the lesbian parents in the case provide a settled and loving home for their child.

“However, this family is not recognised in law. There is no mechanism for a child in same-sex headed families to establish a legal connection to their non-biological parent. This is not in the best interests of the child.”

A civil partnerships bill is currently going through Ireland’s parliament. It offers gay couples many of the rights afforded to heterosexual couples but Sheehan urged the government to add a legal framework that recognises and protects gay parents.

The bill does not give non-biological gay parents the right to adopt their partner’s child.