Ecuador judge won't register British lesbian as 'father' of child

Temporarily ending a heated debate over the legal recognition of a British lesbian couple as “father and mother” of a baby girl, a judge in Ecuador ruled on May 22 that only the biological mother can be affirmed as a legal parent.

The baby girl, Satya Amani, was born in Ecuador to Nicola Susan Rothon by artificial insemination. Rothon lives in Quito –Ecuador’s capital – with Helen Louis Bicknell. Both are British citizens who legalized their union as a same sex “marriage” in England in 2010.

Last December, with the support of international Gay and Lesbian organizations, the couple sued Ecuador’s Civil Registry, demanding the right to register Satya Amani under both last names.

In Ecuador, as in most Latin American countries, children are legally registered under the father’s and mother’s last names, in that order. 

On Tuesday, however, Judge Vicente Altamirano issued a ruling stating that the legislation in Ecuador “does not contemplate a double maternal affiliation.”

“The laws pertaining civil registry specifically speak of ‘father and mother,’ ‘paternity and maternity,’ ‘man and woman’ in the Civil Code and even the Constitution.”

Altamirano’s ruling also stated that the decision does not translate as discrimination against the lesbian couple, since “no civil servant or public official has denied the right of  Nicola Susan Rothon, mother of Satya Amani, to register the child under her name.”

“The minor is the daughter  of Nicola Susan Rothon, meaning that the two, mother and child, share the same blood, so they must share the same last name, as clearly expressed by our legislation.”

“But what does Helen Louise Bicknell represent to the child that will be named Satya Amani?” the ruling added. “The answer is: nothing, since this British citizen has no kinship of affinity or blood.”

The judge's ruling can now only be appealed by the couple to the Constitutional Court, the highest judicial authority in the country.

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