Daughter is legally entitled to lesbian parents’ names, Ecuador high court rules

May 29, 2018

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has reversed a lower court ruling, allowing a six-year-old girl to assume the surnames of her lesbian parents. The high court further ruled that decisions by the country’s Civil Registry office and a provincial judge denying the child the use of her parents’ names was a human rights violation that should be investigated.

Helen Bicknell and Nicole Rothan with their daughter Satya in 2012.

The court ruled that, effective immediately, the legal name of the girl is Satya Bicknell Rothan, after her parents, Helen Bicknell and Nicole Rothan.

Satya, conceived through artificial insemination, was born in 2011 in Malchinguí in Pichincha Province, north of Quito. When Bicknell and Rothan requested a birth certificate from the Ecuadorian Civil Registry, they were told that Satya could not be named for two female parents. In their first attempt to invalidate the decision, a judge ruled in favor of the Civil Registry.

In its Tuesday judgment, the Constitutional Court declared that a “violation of constitutional rights had been committed by the Civil Registry,” and that the best interests of the child had been ignored. The court said that the constitution recognizes the rights of “alternative families.”

The court ordered an immediate investigation by the National Judicial Council into why the rights of the child and parents were denied by the Civil Registry and the lower court judge.

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Quito gay and lesbian rights activist Pamela Troya, a friend of the parents, called the court’s ruling an “important milestone” in the fight against gender discrimination in Ecuador. “This sets an important precedent in the struggle for equal rights in all marriages and for the protection of children,” she said.

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