High court upholds right of lesbian couple to give daughter their last names

Jul 20, 2018

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has upheld a ruling by a Cuenca district court allowing a six-year-old girl to be named for her lesbian parents. The country’s Civil Registry had appealed the decision, claiming that their rules prohibit a child from having the last names of two women.

Helen Bicknell and Nicole Rothan with their daughter Satya Bicknell Rothan in 2011.

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

Conceived through artificial insemination, Satya was born in 2011 in Pichincha Province. When Bicknell and Rothan, British nationals but legal residents of Ecuador, requested a birth certificate from the Civil Registry office, they were told that one of Satya’s names must be that of a male.

In their first challenge of the rules, a judge ruled in favor of the Civil Registry. That ruling was overturned in May when the Cuenca 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.

The Cuenca judges who ruled against the Civil Registry reported receiving death threats following their decision and were assigned security details.

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