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 study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

A Danish study has concluded that women are often paid less than men for doing the same job.

Danish study concludes women earn less than men for same jobs

The study, from Copenhagen Business School, analysed the salaries of 1.2 million people in Denmark aged 30-55 years.

On average, women earn 7 percent less despite having the same profession and same job as their male colleagues, researchers concluded.

CBS professor Lasse Folke Henriksen, one of the report’s co-authors, said the results suggests that the overall disparity between the wages of men and women in Denmark is not solely a result of the pay grades in the professions in which they work.

“The equality debate has for some time focused on wage hierarchy in female-dominated and male-dominated professions,” he said.

“But this suggests there is also a wage gap between men and women with the same job function,” he said.

The study does not specify reasons for the wage gap. Henriksen said further research will address this, but existing research offers potential explanations.

“Family relations mean a lot. Women who have children put more work into home care and so on. That could help to explain it,” he said.

Denmark is not the only country looked at by the study.

The study uses data registered from 2015 and finds an overall wage gap for all countries of 18 percent, with women therefore earning considerably less than men on average.

Along with France, Denmark has the smallest wage gap (7 percent) of all countries analysed. Nordic neighbours Norway and Sweden are close behind with 9 and 8 percent respectively.

The largest wage gap found by the study was 26 percent in Japan.

“So Denmark is well placed,” Henriksen said.

“We also have analyses from further in the past so we can see that the wage gap has shrunk over the years. That’s very positive, and that has also happened in other countries,” he said.