I move amendment No. 1:
1. In page 3, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
“5. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 23:
“23A. Within six months of the coming into operation of the Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Act 2018, the Minister and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection shall have conducted a review of the following areas:
(a) the parental rights of same-sex couples in cases of surrogacy;
(b) the position of spouses, cohabitants and civil partners of those availing of a donor-assisted human reproduction procedure outside of the State or otherwise outside the remit of this Act; and
(c) the retrospective issuing of birth certificates and other documents to record both same-sex parents;
and lay a report on the review before both Houses of the Oireachtas.”
I know the amendment has been mentioned, but I wish to clarify it and respond to what the Minister said. We are proposing inserting a section into the principal Act to make it absolutely bona fide nailed down that within six months there has to be action on this. We are proposing a report because that is the mechanism by which we can table an amendment to ensure it is acted upon tonight. I do not see any contradiction between what the Minister has promised and us agreeing to the amendment.
We have failed people already; we all have to take responsibility for not seeing the drafting error. We are ensuring that while this cannot be dealt with by tomorrow, it will be dealt with as soon as the Dáil returns. If the Minister comes back with legislation to deal with all these issues, that is fine. We will not need a report but we will have done all we can to give people assurance that the Dáil is taking this seriously. I urge people to support the amendment. It does not create unnecessary work for the Minister if he comes back and deals with the issues.
We are proposing that within six months the Ministers for Health and Employment Affairs and Social Protection shall have conducted a review dealing with the issues that were left out of the principal Act. The first issue is the parental rights of same-sex couples in cases of surrogacy, which are not dealt with in the principal Act.
The second issue is the position of spouses, cohabitants and civil partners of those availing of donor-assisted human reproduction outside of the State or otherwise outside the remit of the Act. While, of course, that is outside the State, the children are inside the State. It does not matter how they got here; they are children who need to have their rights asserted. I have huge question marks over surrogacy. It is a profit-making enterprise that exploits women in poor countries in many cases. These are often women of colour. I have huge issues with it. The point is that when children are born and brought back to this country, they have to be dealt with.
The third issue is the retrospective issuing of birth certificates and other documents to record both same-sex parents to allow them to go back.
In the spirit of saying that he is trying to get agreement, the Minister would give people succour and comfort by accepting the amendment rather than saying he will oppose it because he is dealing with it in another way. We have all been in these positions. If we took the Minister's line of argument and withdrew the amendment, he might not come back with the legislation; that is the point. It could be for many reasons such as him being busy or whatever else.
I wanted to make clear why this is necessary. LGBT+ people were hugely validated and affirmed by the majority of people in the marriage equality referendum. It has been shocking that we have not dealt adequately with the practicalities of their lives and made them fully equal families and people in society. We want to be seen to be including LGBT+ people and their families- their children - in every possible way. The delays that people have had to endure for the past three years are not acceptable. This is about children's rights and no matter who their parents are or how they came into the world they should have the same rights as anybody else. I have mentioned some of the key problems of inheritance, citizenship, leaving the country, getting passports and also parents not feeling that they, themselves, are registered and recognised as the parents of these children.
The Minister knows we are doing this because we have been inundated with requests about it. This might seem like a minor issue, but there are many families in these positions and they have contacted all of us. It would be wrong to leave here tonight and withdraw an amendment because we accept an assurance. We should vote for the amendment and hope it is dealt with.