X, Y and Z v. United Kingdom

App. No. 21830/93, 24 Eur. H.R. Rep. 143 (1997).
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Applicants X, Y and Z were all British nationals. X is a transsexual who has undergone gender reassignment surgery to become a man. He has lived with Y, as her male partner, since 1979. The couple applied jointly for, and was granted treatment by AID to allow Y to have a child Z. X was involved throughout that process and has acted as Z’s “father” in every respect since the birth. He sought to be named in Z’s birth certificate as her father but was refused because the British law allowed birth registration for biological fathers only.

The applicants complained that the lack of legal recognition of the relationship between X and Z amounted to a violation of Article 8 (respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and that the resulting situation in which they were placed was discriminatory, in violation of Articles 8 and 14 (freedom from discrimination) of the ECHR.

The Court found no violation of Article 8 of the ECHR. The Court observed that there is no common European standard with regard to the granting of parental rights to transsexuals, and since the law appears to be in a transitional stage, the respondent State must be afforded a wide margin of appreciation; therefore the United Kingdom law which does not recognize relationship between X and Z has not violated their right to respect for family life. Based on the finding on Article 8, it was not necessary to examine Article 14.

"52. In conclusion, given that transsexuality raises complex scientific, legal, moral and social issues, in respect of which there is no generally shared approach among the Contracting States, the Court is of the opinion that Article 8 (art. 8) cannot, in this context, be taken to imply an obligation for the respondent State formally to recognise as the father of a child a person who is not the biological father. That being so, the fact that the law of the United Kingdom does not allow special legal recognition of the relationship between X and Z does not amount to a failure to respect family life within the meaning of that provision (art. 8).

It follows that there has been no violation of Article 8 of the Convention (art. 8)." Page 14.