In welcome news for rainbow families, Victoria has made changes to their rules to allow a child’s birth registration to recognise both parents as “mother” or “father” or “parent”. The new rules came into force earlier this year in March 2020.  The rules will also allow families to correct previously issued birth certificates.

“The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) has expanded the parental descriptors available. Both parents can now be recognised as ‘mother’, ‘father’ or ‘parent’ on both their child’s legal and commemorative birth certificates. This change means that Victoria’s birth records can now fully reflect the diversity of rainbow families,” the registry said on its website.

BDM has said that families who wished to correct birth certificates issued earlier can visit its website to find information about how it can be done.

“Families in our LGBTIQ+ communities are wonderful in their diversity. It’s hugely important for me personally, and many other Victorians, that both parents can be listed on a child’s birth certificate. We share parenting – and home-schooling responsibilities – of course we should be able to share this too,” Ro Allen, Victorian Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality, told Star Observer. “Being able to have both parents’ names on your child’s birth certificate is not only an extension of recognising our families, it saves so many hassles when you’re called upon as a parent, whether it’s to do with your child’s school or even in hospital settings.”

Felicity Marlowe, executive director and co-founder of Rainbow Families Victoria, told Star Observer that the organisation had been advocating this change for many years.

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 Along with changes in parental markers, LGBTQI parents can also apply for a commemorative birth certificate for their children. The commemorative birth certificate is not a legal document and cannot be used as a proof of identity.

“The BDM values diversity. BDM commissioned this commemorative birth certificate to: Celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender-diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) Victorians, Promote equality and Reinforce our commitment to the inclusion of all communities,” said the registry.

The commemorative certificates were commissioned to celebrate a decade of changes in Victoria to the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act, which came into effect in January 2010. The changes for the first time recognised “same-sex couples as legal parents of children that they conceive through assisted reproductive treatment, including donor insemination, home insemination, IVF and altruistic surrogacy.” The certificates which will be printed on archival quality paper and have the rainbow as its defining design element.

Artist Judy Horacek told Star Observer that she jumped at the opportunity when approached by Rainbow Families to design the commemorative birth certificates for Victoria.

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 “The inspiration for the design was of course the rainbow. I also wanted very much to show figures of many different colours. Initially I had thought to do lots of different families of different races and gender mixes, but the possibilities were too infinite, with the danger of leaving someone out. So I had the idea of doing babies only, and in all colours of the rainbow, even colours that would never be skin colours. I wanted it to be very bright, happy and colourful,” said Horacek.

Horacek added that the changes made to the rules were important to the community.

“The change that would have made the biggest difference to rainbow families was the one allowing  mothers/fathers/parents to be recorded on the legal birth certificate itself.”

Visit the BDM website, for more information about the changes as well as how to apply for a commemorative rainbow birth certificate.

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