DNA, Donor Offspring and Derivative Citizenship: Redefining Parentage under the Citizenship Act
(2016) 39:2 Dalhousie Law Journal 525
36 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2016 Last revised: 26 Jan 2018
Date Written: 2016
Under Canada’s Citizenship Act, children born outside Canada acquire derivative citizenship — that is, citizenship through descent or parentage — if at least one of their parents is Canadian. However, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in order to qualify for derivative citizenship a child must have a genetic link to a Canadian citizen. Canadians who use donated sperm or eggs to conceive — including women who give birth using donated eggs — are therefore not considered parents for citizenship purposes. According to the Federal Court of Appeal, Canadian donors may also pass on their citizenship to their genetic offspring. This article argues that current interpretations of the Citizenship Act disadvantage donor offspring and their families, and run counter to the Act’s objectives, Parliament’s intentions and developments in Canadian family law. It maintains that the Canadian government has provided inadequate justifications for excluding Canadians’ non-biological children from obtaining citizenship by descent, particularly in light of reforms permitting international adoptees to acquire citizenship from their Canadian adoptive parents. It recommends that citizenship officers be required to grant citizenship to donor offspring where Canadians are recognized as their parents for family law purposes, and can prove that their children were conceived using donated genetic material.
Keywords: assisted reproductive technologies, assisted reproduction, Canadian citizenship, sperm donation, egg donation, adoption, surrogacy, parentage
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