Since I started Fathers4Justice in 2001 I have been continually criticised for standing up for my rights as if I were some sort of social leper. As a former activist in the anti-apartheid movement, I ask whether these same people would have criticised Nelson Mandela for standing up for his rights as a black man? Would they have told women not to stand up for their right to vote? So why is it I am not allowed to stand up for my rights as a father?

My personal narrative is very simple. As a father I am not recognised in law. I have no right to see my children, I have no representation in my parliament and no voice in my country. What does that make me? A legal non entity? A slave? In the eyes of my government I have already been labeled a terrorist. And they still want me to pay my taxes after taking my rights, my kids and then taking my children’s future?

Today there are many people and groups out there who appear to stand for the same things we do when in reality they stand for the exact opposite. Indeed, these people oppose shared parenting, they oppose fathers rights, they oppose equality of treatment and a 50/50 starting point. You can’t have a little bit of equality – it’s like being a little bit pregnant.

Many talk about ‘children’s rights’ as if fathers should have no rights or deserve no rights.

It’s almost as if we are embarrassed to talk about standing up for our rights. In reality ‘children’s rights’ are the same as ‘the child’s best interests’ which is the same as ‘the mothers best interests’. It’s the same wicked deceit used to dupe the public that somehow secret courts act in the child’s best interests whilst keeping no records on the outcomes for children.

Let us be clear – we don’t need to be told what’s in the best interests of a child when we know that the best parent for any child is BOTH parents.

It is our inalienable right to parent our children. A god given right passed down from generation to generation. Those rights are not bestowed on us by governments, laws or secret courts. They are ours.

So lets stop apologising and make fathers rights synonymous with equal rights and human rights in 2013.

For fathers to have rights isn’t wrong. We have animal rights, we have gay rights, we even have rights for terrorists. Fathers rights are equal rights are human rights. They are indivisible, inseparable and inalienable.

In 2013 our message is this: we are for the human rights of mothers, fathers and children. Just because you are a parent, doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly surrendered those rights, or those responsibilities. And you cannot have one without the other, as children cannot have a mother without a father.

Having a father is a human right for all our children.

Matt O’Connor, Founder, Fathers4Justice

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