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02 JAN 2013

A v B and C [2012] EWCA Civ 285 - heteronormativity, poly-parenting, and the homo-nuclear family [2012] CFLQ 475

Keywords: lesbian parenting; known donors

The opinions of the Court of Appeal in A v B and C illustrate the extent to which legal discourse, even as it accommodates lesbian and gay families, remains under the influence of heteronormative understandings of family and parenting. Prominent among these is the view that dual-gender parenting is preferable to single-gender parenting. The facts of the case, involving a known donor seeking a defined contact order in relation to the child born to a lesbian couple, effectively forced a decision between having either two same-gender parents or three different-gender ones. At first instance, His Honour Judge Jenkins identified the lesbian mothers as principal parents and provided for only limited contact with the donor. In allowing the donor's appeal, the Court of Appeal argued that Judge Jenkins made a mistake in stating that he could not anticipate the amount of contact increasing in the foreseeable future. The Court of Appeal's arguments and rhetoric make it amply clear that it views children in lesbian families, other things being equal, as better off with fathers than without them - a view echoing the problematic and often mystifying discourse of fathers' rights activism.

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