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Supreme Court to rule on gay couple’s international child

The Supreme Court has heard the case of a separated lesbian couple who are in dispute over the issue of contact with their daughter.
The seven-year-old girl, known as “P”, was taken to Pakistan by her birth mother early in 2014. Her former partner claimed that the girl was a British national, was “habitually resident” in the UK and should be made a ward of the court. She had previously tried, unsuccessfully, to have the girl divide her time between the UK and Pakistan. The Court of Appeal judged that the girl could not legally be said to live in this country, although neither had she acquired a habitual residence in Pakistan. The court also acknowledged there is “widespread, indeed pervasive, societal and state discrimination, social stigma, harassment and violence against both gay men and women in Pakistan.”
This makes it effectively impossible for the mother’s former partner to achieve legal redress for the situation in Pakistan, since she would be unable to establish her relationship to the child. The case has now moved to the Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the UK, which considered the evidence over two days on 8 and 9 December.
The case is being dealt with by Reunite, a charity that specialises in cases where children have been moved across international borders, and in cases of parental abduction. Acting for Reunite, Simon Bruce commented on the importance of the case. “I am really pleased that the case was expedited to the Supreme Court, as there are issues of huge significance affecting increasing numbers of families becoming more internationally mobile. The top court in the country has the chance to clarify areas of law with far-reaching impact, relating to: psychological parenthood; the children of same-sex parents in jurisdictions where it is a crime to be gay; the ability and the willingness of a state to make orders affecting its citizens, wherever in the world they may be. This is especially important – and topical – in the light of today’s global fluidity of people’s lives.”

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