A man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple, enabling one of them to have a baby boy, has lost his High Court bid for guardianship of the boy and access to him.
The judge hearing the case has called on the Oireachtas to give urgent consideration to legislation to take account of the existence of same sex couples and securing their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly where such a couple wishes one of them to bear a child.
The landmark case was taken by a 41-year-old gay man known only as A.
He agreed in August 2005 to donate sperm to a lesbian couple.
He signed an agreement with them that he would not occupy the role of father but that he would have the role of a 'favourite uncle' and his access to the child would be at the discretion of the couple.
The child was born in May 2006.
After the birth, the couple told the Court, the man seemed to change his view of his role and see himself as a father.
The Court heard the couple felt betrayed and violated by the man.
The relationship between A and the child's mother is described as 'poisonous' and the he is described as having an 'arm's length' relationship with her partner.
Last year, the man secured an injunction preventing the couple from taking the child to Australia for a year pending the outcome of this action seeking orders for guardianship and access.
In his ruling this afternoon, Mr Justice John Hedigan found that A had misled the couple as to his true intentions in entering into the sperm donation agreement.
He found that the welfare of the child was best served by the little boy continuing in the care, custody and guardianship of the lesbian couple and that the man should not get any court ordered access.
He also found that where a lesbian couple live together in a long term committed relationship, they could be regarded as being a de facto family and enjoy family rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
He said the only relationship between the man and the child was a biological one and he did not enjoy these rights.
He said there was nothing in Irish law to suggest this family composed of two women and a child had any lesser right to be recognised as a de facto family than a family composed of a man and a woman, who are not married to each other, with a child.
Mr Justice Hedigan also found that the absence of any provisions in Irish law taking account of the existence of same sex couples and securing their rights under Article 8 was something that called for 'urgent consideration' by the Oireachtas.
Included in this consideration he said should be the situation where such a couple wishes one of them to bear a child.
He said on the evidence presented to the court, this was happening with greater frequency throughout the world than might have been thought heretofore.