“For most people, going to register the birth of their baby is the happiest day of their life. But for us, those were two of the worst days.”
Pride month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come, but an Irish couple are working hard to remind us how much work is left to do for a truly equal Ireland.
Ranae Von Meding and Audrey Rooney are married with two children, but they will be left out of new legislation that aims to protect same-sex parents in Ireland, set to be introduced later this year.
“At the start of this year there was a big fuss in the media about this legislation coming in. It was reported in the media as a big step forward for equality. But that was not the whole truth. It is not equality.
“Because it’s not for everybody. It’s only for a select few who meet the very narrow criteria.
“The really cruel thing is that when this law does finally come in, it will not apply to us.
This is because the couple used Reciprocal IVF to conceive their children, with Audrey telling us:
“We chose Reciprocal IVF because we wanted both of us to be a part of the process physically. So we used my eggs, and Ranae carried.
“It was amazing for both of us to be part of it.”
But Reciprocal IVF is not legal in Ireland, meaning the couple had to travel to use this fertility treatment.
“It’s very common in the UK, but the costs are huge, so we decided to go to Europe.”
“Simon Harris has said they cannot regulate conception when it occurs outside of the state. So that basically means that anyone who’s had fertility treatment outside of Ireland won’t be eligible for this new legislation.
This means that same-sex parent families are not afforded the same protection as their straight counterparts.
Ranae explained to us: “It won’t apply to straight couples.
“If a married straight couple goes abroad and gets pregnant and comes home to Ireland to give birth, when that couple goes to register the birth of their child, they’re under no obligation to disclose that they’ve had fertility treatment so they are both automatically registered as parents.
“But when there’s a same-sex couple, it’s assumed that they have had to access some sort of fertility treatment or help in conceiving, so they have to disclose where and how they conceived.
“There’s a discrepancy between how a straight couple and a same-sex couple are treated in that situation. And it’s not fair.”
Ranae and Audrey met eleven years ago, when Ireland was a very different place.
Ranae told us:
“When we met, we didn’t really think we’d ever get married, because it wasn’t legal, and we always said we wouldn’t leave our own country to get married – especially when it wouldn’t be recognised here.
But following the same-sex marriage referendum, the couple were married in 2016, when Ranae was five months pregnant:
“We had Ava in 2016, and it was one of the most amazing days of our lives. But prior to her being born we found out that I wouldn’t have any legal rights, which tainted it.
“In order to be covered by the new legislation, you have to be a female couple who has had fertility treatment in an Irish clinic with an identifiable donor.
“We do have so much to celebrate in Ireland when it comes to equality and I think a lot of people look at Ireland as a beacon of hope for equality because we were the first country ever to legalise marriage equality by a public vote.
But we still have so much more to do before we can say that Ireland is truly equal especially when it comes to same-sex families.
There will be countless families excluded from the new legislation – including male couples, couples with anonymous donors, female couples who did at home-insemination, or used a donor known to them.
Just this week, Minister for Health Simon Harris reportedly cancelled a meeting with Ranae and Audrey.
“The government seem to be so behind Pride – having piggybacked on the arduous work of gay rights campaigners, and yet they feel like they can leave our children behind. The state has a really poor record when it comes to child protection. My wife can’t make any medical decisions for our children and if something were to happen to me, the State might take them off Audrey’s hands.
“The minister cancelling our meeting, with no alternative date given, is yet another disappointment.”
“We don’t need that piece of paper to prove we’re a family. We know we’re a family. We need that piece of paper to protect our girls.”
Ranae has started a petition calling on Simon Harris to draft legislation that will not just cover some same-sex families but all LGBTQ families in Ireland. Please sign and share it here.
Watch Ranae and Audrey’s full story here: