The UK’s passport forms are to be updated so that same-sex couples who are parents can better communicate their parental status.
Current passport forms require parents to fill in “mother” and “father” descriptors when applying for passports for their children. The Identity and Passport Service has decided to introduce gender neutral terms alongside existing descriptors that simply read “Parent 1″ and “Parent 2.”
A spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service told the Daily Mail: “IPS is planning to amend the application form and associated guidance to deal with same-sex parents applying for a passport on behalf of a child.
“Currently, the application form provides the relevant boxes of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to be completed. The new form to be introduced by December 2011 will in addition provide for ‘parent 1′ and ‘parent 2′.
“It is essential that any parent provides the necessary information on their status as parents or guardians when applying for a passport on behalf of their child.
“This protects the interests of the child and ensures that IPS is able to issue passports securely and safely to the right person.
This change is something that LGBT rights groups in the UK have said is necessary given that current forms assume heterosexual relationships, an assumption that can lead to inaccuracies in passport information. However, the change is apparently being met with some resistance from so-called traditional family groups who claim the change weakens the status of mother and father roles.
Sam Dick, head of policy at gay rights group Stonewall said: “These changes simply reflect the realities of modern life for families – making it clearer for same-sex parents applying for passports for their children and more straightforward for the officials who process them.”
Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: “To speak of ‘parent one’ and ‘parent two’ denigrates the place of both fathers and mothers.
“Fathers and mothers are not interchangeable but have quite distinct roles to play in the care and nurture of their children.”
How this change supposedly “denigrates” opposite-gender parental roles is beyond me given that the new markers will be introduced alongside the previous mother/father categories. Also puzzling is why the BBC thought that the fringe group Family Education Trust was the go-to for a comment on these changes.
Regardless, the changes are slated to go into effect come December. America implemented a similar change earlier this year.
The Lib-Dem/Conservative Coallition Government recently announced that it is also considering implementing changes to British passports to reform the strict male/female identity markers that are currently required. This change would serve to better accommodate trans and intersex citizens who at the moment are forced to pick either a male or female designation. You can read more on that here.