A man who donated sperm to lesbian friends with the understanding he would be involved in the child’s life is battling in court to stop them from leaving the country.

The High Court yesterday heard that Robert Masson is listed on the girl’s birth certificate as her father and has been an active parent in her life, The Australian reported.

The case comes after Masson lost an appeal in the Family Court to be legally recognised as a parent.

Lawyers for Masson and for the girl’s mother, known as Susan, have debated the rights of a sperm donor as a parent.

“Is there not a difference between the university student who is a donor to a sperm bank for a few bob and the sperm donor who plays a role in the life of the child?” asked Justice Geoffrey Nettle.

The court heard that the girl regards Masson as a parent, calling him Daddy.

Bret Walker SC, representing Susan, said the definition of a parent under the Family Law Act was “not all that straightforwardly set down” but that the need to “liberate or expand… the notion of parent in order to serve the child’s best interests” was unnecessary.

The case will test whether federal law overrules New South Wales law.

Same-sex couples often use sperm donation to start a family, whether from a friend or an anonymous donor.

The High Court hearing continues today.

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