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New Bill Would Expand Definitions of Mother and Father

A new bill introduced by the Minister of Justice would redefine the legal definitions of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ and allow nonbinary individuals to register themselves simply as ‘parents’ if they prefer not to designate themselves a gendered parental role, RÚV reports.

The bill notes that unlike some countries around the world that compel trans people to be sterilized in order to achieve legal recognition of their gender, Iceland has no such requirement. As such, a trans man in Iceland may become pregnant and give birth to a child and a trans woman may beget a child. Per the proposed changes to the bill, parents who have legally changed their gender in the national registry will be recognized as ‘mother’ or ‘father’ in accordance with their legal gender. This would allow a child to have, for instance, two legal fathers or two legal mothers.

See Also: Iceland’s Gender Autonomy Act is a Step Forward for Trans and Intersex Rights 

Last June, Iceland passed the Gender Autonomy Act, which allows, among other things, for individuals to change their official gender according to their lived experience and register as neither male nor female (denoted with an “x” on documents). The new bill would therefore make it possible for a person to simply designate themselves as a child’s ‘parent’ in the national registry, rather than having to choose between being listed as the child’s mother or father.

Should the bill be passed, further changes would need to be made in accordance with the new definitions of the concept of ‘mother.’ Special rights currently afforded to mothers related to pregnancy and childbirth would also need to extend to those identifying as fathers or parents.

The bill would also update the current ‘pater est’ laws, which states that the man who a mother is either married to or cohabitating with is automatically considered a child’s father. Under the new provisions, this would be redefined as the ‘parens est’ principal: a child born to two cohabitating or married individuals would automatically be considered their child, and they the child’s parents. This would not apply, however, in the case of artificial insemination.

In the event that the parens est rule does not apply, the parental status of the cohabitating partner or spouse of a person who gave birth to a child would be determined according to paternal recognition provisions, which would be similar to the current provisions on paternity recognition. (See the current laws on maternity and paternity in Iceland, including paternity recognition, in English here.)

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