Denmark mulls petition asking for co-father rights

A public petition has called on the Danish parliament to consider allowing two men to be legal guardians of a child.

Denmark's parliament will address a petition asking for co-fathers to be allowed as legal guardians of their children.
Denmark's parliament will address a petition asking for co-fathers to be allowed as legal guardians of their children. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Under current laws, two women can be the legal guardians of a child, as can heterosexual couples.

The citizens’ petition or borgerforslag in Danish has reached the requisite number of signatures for parliamentary discussion.

This means parliamentary parties must address the matter in the chamber and one of the parties can choose to table a bill on the issue.

The petition reached the necessary 50,000 public signatures in just two days.

The left wing Red Green Alliance party said it was in support of the motion.

The party will “certainly not stand in the way” of a law change, its spokesperson for equality, Pernille Skipper, said.

Parental legislation should in fact be made gender neutral, the Red Green Alliance argues, meaning it would be focused on the individuals as parents without taking gender into account.

The party also supports allowing more than two legal parents or guardians.

Specifically, the public petition requests that men be allowed to be made “co-fathers” along with biological fathers of children. Women in similar situations can be made co-mothers (medmødre in Danish) under existing law.

Other political parties have also signalled support for the petition, including the Social Liberal, Conservative and Danish People’s parties.

The Social Democratic government’s equality minister, Peter Hummelgaard, said he “had sympathy” for affected couples but that the matter must be looked into further.

“The public petition raises some important questions on the rights of co-fathers, which I fundamentally have sympathy,” Hummelgaard told broadcaster DR.

“But it also raises some complex, ethical and principal questions in relation to the use of surrogate mothers. So there’s a need to look more closely at what the petition specifically means and what the consequences would be for the people involved,” he said.

Skipper told news wire Ritzau that Denmark should consider allowing surrogate mothers.

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Danish government changes stance on EU business equality quota

Denmark’s government now supports an EU directive aimed at boosting the number of women in senior business roles, in a reversal of its earlier stance.

Danish government changes stance on EU business equality quota

The government was previously against an EU directive which calls for at least 40 percent of company boards to be women. There must also be 40 percent men on company boards. The directive applies to companies with more than 250 people on their payrolls.

But that has now changed with the current government reversing its previous position as well as that of several Danish governments which preceded it, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.

“The argument against this was that we believed we could easily promote progress ourselves [without the directive, ed.]. So an EU law was not necessary. But the status is that nothing has really happened,” minister for equality Trine Bramsen told the newspaper.

“We don’t think it’s going fast enough. That’s why we now wish to join the EU position on this area,” she said.

The EU directive states that companies should select board members based on set and neutral criteria, according to Jyllands-Posten’s report. That means that, should two candidates be equally qualified, the one from the underrepresented sex should be preferred for the position.

Data from Bramsen’s ministry show that the proportion of women on the boards of 190 of the largest stock market companies was 26 percent in 2021. That is an increase from 20 percent in 2017. But that increase is not sufficient, the minister said.

Governments in Germany and the Netherlands both also recently dropped opposition to the directive, according to Jyllands-Posten.

The Danish government will soon present a bill proposal setting down new equality criteria for Danish company boards, Bramsen also said.