- The Magazine
A British man has successfully sued the clinic he donated his sperm to after learning that they used his donation to help same-sex couples to have children.
Neil Gaskell, 49, won a five-figure settlement from CARE Fertility Clinic in Manchester, where he donated sperm in 2010.
Gaskell made his donation in exchange for a discount on his then-wife’s IVF treatment, after being told he had “superman-strength” sperm with “unusually high motility.”
When making the donation, Gaskell stipulated that none of his sperm be used to aid same-sex couples or single mothers.
However, CARE contacted him in 2016, telling him that “mistakes had been made,” including sperm donations being provided to same-sex families as well as 11 families being provided with his sperm, more than the 10 families mandated by the industry regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Gaskell told the Mail on Sunday that his decision to sue the clinic wasn’t due to homophobia, but because he believes children should have a mother and father.
“I accept that some people will find this uncomfortable and that people might think I’m homophobic, or against the idea of single mothers,” he said. “But that couldn’t be further from the truth. This wasn’t about discriminating against same-sex couples, it wasn’t for religious reasons and I don’t accept that it’s bigotry. I think about these families — these children — every day, all the time.”
He continued: “But you can’t argue with biology. It takes a man and a woman to create a child, and it’s my view that if children are being born with my sperm they must have a mother and a father.
“I worried about how they’d be brought up, whether they’d be bullied in the playground, or about having two mums. I didn’t want that for my children. I accept that’s going to be divisive, but it’s how I feel.”
Despite suing over the his sperm being used to help same-sex families, Gaskell said he has “no problem” with same-sex couples having children on their own.
“I have absolutely no issue with it, be it by adoption, IVF or a surrogate,” he said. “It’s just in my case I wanted them to have a father figure in their life, in my eyes that would reduce the chances of them coming looking for me when they’re older.”
While Gaskell’s request to not allow same-sex couples to use his sperm would now be illegal, it was made before the passage of the 2010 Equality Act, which banned discrimination against same-sex couples.
However, The Mirror noted that his request would still have contravened the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority code of practice. In a statement, the HFEA said that a “full investigation” was carried out into CARE and Gaskell’s request.
“Lessons have been learned and the clinic now ensures that all treatments are conducted in line with our Code of Practice and the Equality Act 2010, to ensure that no one receiving treatment is discriminated against because of a protected characteristic, including sexual orientation,” HFEA said.
A spokesman for CARE told the Mirror that the clinic “believes ‘Family is for Everyone’. Our teams dedicate their lives to helping people have a baby. Whether you are a heterosexual or same-sex couple we know that love makes a family, and we are committed to helping all our patients achieve the joy of parenthood with compassion and personal treatment.”
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