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Question

496. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the sections of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 which have not yet been commenced further to concerns raised by an organisation (details supplied) on behalf of same-sex couples; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24902/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was enacted on 6 April 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions Order) 2016 (S.I. No. 12 of 2016) commenced the bulk of the Act with effect from 18 January 2016. That Commencement Order brought provisions of Parts 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12 and 13 of the Act into operation. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 355 of 2017) commenced part of section 47(c) of the Act with effect from 31 July 2017 and the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 474 of 2017) commenced provisions of the Act relating to adoption by civil partners and cohabiting couples with effect from 2 November 2017.
Part 10 of the Act, which amended the Passports Act 2008, was commenced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1 July 2015.
Part 11 of the Act, which related to adoption, was not commenced and was repealed by section 2(2) of the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, which came into operation on 19 October 2017, as provided for by the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017 (Commencement) Order 2017 (S.I. No. 443 of 2017). The provisions in Part 11 have been incorporated into the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, for which the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is responsible.
Section 177 of the Act which amends section 2 of the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 has not yet been commenced. Following adoption of the 34th amendment to the Constitution and its subsequent legislative changes, my Department identified a lacuna in the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 that prevents male same-sex married couples from availing of adoptive leave and benefits. To address this lacuna, my Department has prepared draft legislative proposals that will amend section 177 to will afford the same entitlements to adoptive leave and benefits to all couples who are married, cohabiting or who are in a civil partnership, irrespective of gender.
Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provide for parentage through donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR). The issue of the recognition of parentage for same-sex couples and their children is dealt with under Part 2 of the Act. The Minister for Health has responsibility for commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of the Act.
Other provisions of the Act which relate to DAHR have not yet been commenced as they are linked to Parts 2 and 3. The commencement of the provisions of the Act which are related to Parts 2 and 3 will be co-ordinated with the commencement of those Parts by the Minister for Health.
In this regard, the Deputy will be aware that the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill is undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health. That Bill will provide for the establishment of an Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority which will, among other things, undertake certain functions under Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.
Part 9 of the Act provides for a number of amendments to the Civil Registration Act 2004. No provision of Part 9 has yet been commenced. Some sections cannot be commenced until Parts 2 and 3 are brought into operation by the Minister for Health. Other sections are dependent on provisions of the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 being commenced and my Department is liaising with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to scheduling the commencement of these sections.