With the Dutch government exploring possibilities to enshrine parenting rights for the Netherlands' 25,000 children in gay families, Dutch kids may soon be able to have three or more mothers or fathers.
"The justice ministry is going to investigate and see what the possibilities are for recognising three parents or more per family," ministry spokesman Wiebe Alkema told AFP on Wednesday.
The left-wing Green party, but also the Liberal VVD and the Labour PvdA parties that won last month's parliamentary election, requested the report with a view to amending a lesbian parenting bill currently before parliament.
The Netherlands was the first country to legalise gay marriage in 2001 and when a gay or lesbian couple has a child, another parent is by biological necessity involved.
But, said Green MP Liesbeth van Tongeren, it is also essential to recognise the rights of non-biological parents, including step-parents.
"Currently parenthood in the eyes of the law is almost always the consequence of biological parenthood," her party said in a statement, stressing that "this does not represent the diversity of families in the Netherlands."
"Often enough, the father of a child with lesbian parents also plays a role in the life of the child," she said.
"How a family lives is more important than the biological lineage," Van Tongeren added. "The bill should take into account what's best for all concerned."
There is currently no legal recognition in the Netherlands for a child's step-parents or for sperm donors who would like to be involved in the life of their child.
Junior justice minister Fred Teveen noted in parliament however that there were potentially many practical objections to changing the law and that he would await the report's conclusions.
Official statistics say that by the end of 2010, 14,813 homosexual couples were married in the Netherlands, where around a million of the country's 16.7 million inhabitants are homosexual, according to gay rights group COC.