The Bailiwick’s century-old birth registration laws could be up for a revamp, if an amendment to the Discrimination Law proposals is approved next week.
Alderney Rep. Alexander Snowdon and Deputy Jennifer Merrett have laid the amendment, which calls for a fair, modern and equitable approach to issuing birth certificates, which ensures that all family types are treated the same.
Alderney Representative Snowdon said:
“If your relationship is recognised by the State, you naturally believe that your family will also be recognised by the State. It’s heartbreaking for families to discover that this is not the case. We know that the birth registrations law has been really distressing for some same-sex couples in Alderney and in Guernsey, who can’t be properly registered as the parents of their children. It’s time for that to change. Parents of newborns have contacted us during this term and have asked us to sort this Law out – we are asking the States to make this a priority now.”
Deputy Merrett said:
“The Law in Guernsey was written in the 1930s and is still in French. It is based on the old- fashioned concept of what a traditional family should look like, what as a community we believed was acceptable has arguably changed, hopefully we have progressed and are more inclusive a hundred years on! For example, currently it doesn’t really allow for unmarried couples or same-sex parents. It still includes the concept of ‘illegitimate’ children, which is completely inappropriate in the 21st Century.”
The introduction of same-sex marriage in Guernsey in 2016 and Alderney in 2017 was an important turning point for the Bailiwick as an inclusive, welcoming community, the two States Members say. But since then, the fact that the birth registrations law does not recognise same-sex parents has been even harder to come to terms with, for those who are affected by it. The two States Members say that they are aware of an increasing number of complaints to the Greffe about the limitations of the current law, and that there are parents in both Islands are desperate to see this addressed.
Deputy Merrett added:
“In the last few months, we have all been reminded of how important and precious our loved ones are. The States wants the Bailiwick to ‘Revive and Thrive’. We can’t do that unless we put all families first, and make sure that we get it right from birth for every child in our community. The States has tackled long overdue reforms to our marriage and divorce laws this term – updating our birth registrations law is the obvious next step. We hope this straightforward amendment will be unanimously supported by the States.”