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honour Westlife's Mark Feehily wins British Diversity Award for surrogacy laws work

I mean, I've won awards for my music and awards with Westlife but this is something very special”

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Westlife singer Mark Feehily

Westlife singer Mark Feehily

Westlife singer Mark Feehily

Westlife star Mark Feehily has won a prestigious British Diversity Award for his work campaigning for surrogacy laws.

The singer was among stars and business leaders recognised for work to champion equality and diversity at prestigious event hosted by June Sarpong OBE.

Feehily, who recently appeared on ITV's Masked Singer, collected the Global Recognition Award for Diversity.

"This is an incredible honour and the most meaningful award I have collected in my career,” Mark said,

“I mean, I've won awards for my music and awards with Westlife but this is something very special.”

“I am proud and I hope it goes some way towards highlighting the issues still faced by LGBT+ families who want to start families of their own.”

There is still a lot to do and our work will not stop until we have achieved full equality,” he added.

Although rarely sharing an insight into his life as a father, Mark has campaigned to change surrogacy laws in Ireland, calling on the government to support LGBT+ families like his in hope of creating a better society for all young children to grow up in.

The singer and his partner Cailean O’Neil welcomed their daughter Layla in October 2019 through a surrogate in the United States.

Currently in Ireland, only the biological parent can have guardianship over babies born through surrogacy. The other parent can apply for guardianship after two years.

The bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR), which includes surrogacy, is being drafted by Department of Health officials but there has been no indication of when the legislation will be published.

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Mr Feehily told RTÉ that recognition for parents under law is “vital and crucial.”

He explained: “The medical implications of the current status of the legislation - hypothetically speaking you could end up in dark murky waters if you were unlucky enough - it's really important in say emergency services situation for a parent to sign a consent form for surgery to be done."

"For couples in our position, even something like bringing your child in for their jabs, like everyone does, and you're worrying if so-and-so's name isn't down as a parent are they going to turn me away in front of everyone in the waiting room?"

“That's a very stressful thing and there's lots of stuff like that in day-to-day life that people in our position - especially the parent who's sort of left out by the law - they'll be constantly worried about that.”

Continuing, Mark said: “The biggest part for me is that I'm a dad and this directly affects my child and my family and so of course that's the main reason, but also it's an opportunity that I can't let pass, to contribute in some small way to help in something very important."

“Change is a really important thing in every country and as a country we're so proud of our culture and our history, but we always have to create a new history, these sort of changes are vital and crucial in the storyline of any nation and you have to grow and move with the times.

“It's something that I didn't even think twice about because I'll do anything for my child as any parent would.”

“It's all about parents taking care of and minding their children and in order to do that 100pc, we have to all be legally covered, and that's what this is all about.”

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