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Couple's kids denied citizenship over surrogacy

A Kiwi couple living in Australia say their children have been discriminated against by the New Zealand Government because they were born to a surrogate. The couple tried to get citizenship by descent for their children but the application was denied.

Rees Rear and Brett Ramsey have been together for more than 20 years and have three children. They live in Sydney, but unlike other New Zealanders living overseas they can't apply for New Zealand citizenship for their children.

I was shocked, says Mr Rear. It was sort of like, you're kidding me right? Even the lady who answered the phone said it won't be a problem as long as you're the biological fathers of the children.

The men are the biological fathers of the children, who were born to a surrogate in the United States. But under New Zealand law, the surrogate mother and her partner are the legal parents.

The law in New Zealand as it stands would require us to adopt our children, says Mr Rear. The only problem is, on the birth certificate we are the parents so we don't know how we would adopt from ourselves.

New Zealand's laws around surrogacy and adoption were last updated in 1969.

It appears that the law that applies in this situation, in my view, is very archaic.

Mr Rear and Mr Ramsey are proud Kiwis. They also have Australian citizenship.

The men say getting citizenship by decent for their children in Australia was easy. All they had to do was fill out some paperwork. They couldn't believe it wasn't the same in New Zealand. They say a country with marriage equality should also have equality for the modern family.

So you're still getting discriminated against, even though it's not a gay issue, says Mr Ramsey. It's a family issue because there are plenty of straight people in New Zealand who use surrogates.

The Government has no plans to change the law. That's not good enough for this New Zealand couple. They considered moving back to New Zealand, but that's now off the cards.

3 news, September 15, 2013




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