By Søren Laursen
A vast majority of the Danish parliament has passed the bill on amending the Children’s Act to include rainbow families.
In 1999 Denmark made it possible for a child to have two legal parents of the same sex. Technically this was established by means of second-parent adoption. This was a major break-through, but it did establish a disparity between children in rainbow families and other children, who fall under the Children’s Act.
With the new law second-parent adoption is no longer required for a number of families.
For lesbian couples who get children by clinically assisted insemination with anonymous donor sperm, the co-mother can be legal parent from the birth. If she is married to the mother she will be automatically recognised as legal mother. If they are not married the co-mother can recognise the child in a simple administrative procedure, the same procedure used by straight couples by a father, who are not married to the mother.
To be more inclusive the amendment also introduces a new construct: a binding contract between a man, a woman and her female partner. The contract is made before conceiving the child, and here the three parts decide, if the man or the partner of the mother shall be the second legal parent. This person will then be able to use the before mentioned administrative procedure to recognise the child upon birth. This solution is available whatever the marital status of the three parts.
The new law still recognises only two legal parents, and the procedures are available only when using clinics. Thus, when using home insemination, a father can recognise the child whereas a co-mother must do a second-parent adoption to become legal parent.
The procedures introduced here are available only to rainbow families. For straight couples the law was amended last year to enable use of a known sperm donor. However, if the mother is married, her husband will become legal parent (pater est). In the explanatory notes to the new amendment, the government states, that considering the rainbow families to be different from other families, to provide equality it is necessary to create new provisions rather than to include the families under existing provisions.
The left-center government elected in 2011 introduced the same-sex marriage last year, and the new law is a follow-up on this.
In the parliament the socialist, the social democrat and the liberal sections (six parties) voted in favour of the amendment. The conservatives were divided, and only the Danish Peoples Party voted against the proposal. The votes were 93 for, 17 against.
In the last decade the liberal-conservative government fought against including rainbow families under the Children’s Act, and they introduced very detailed rules concerning second parent adoption for lesbian couples using anonymous sperm donation for clinically assisted insemination.