On the 3rd March 2018, the French authorities ruled against parents calling their baby girl Liam. This ban was put in place to ‘avoid gender confusion’, which poses the question – who should have the last say when it comes to choosing a baby name?
Under French law, a court can pan parents from giving their baby a name that they deem to be against the child’s interest. With the court intervening to stop parents from naming their children a number of different names over recent years, including Nutella, Fraise, Joyeux, MJ (after Michael Jackson), Manhattan and Deamon, to name a few.
The ban comes at an interesting time, as gender neutral baby names are on the rise, with names like Harley, Frankie, Harper, Riley and Blake, being used for both male and female babies.
There are some proven benefits to having a gender-neutral name, but the French court’s decision to not allow a baby girl to be named Liam, suggests that it would be detrimental to name a baby girl a traditionally ‘male’ name.
Baby naming laws worldwide…
Naming laws vary worldwide and there are other countries around the globe, where it is not uncommon for the state to intervene with the baby naming decision.
In New Zealand since 1995, the births, deaths, marriages and Relationships Registration Act outlines a set of rules surrounding acceptable names for babies born in New Zealand. The law states that a name, or combination of names, should not cause offence, be unreasonably long or include an official title or rank.
‘King’ and ‘Duke’ were among those that had been turned down most since 2001. These names were banned because they imply the child has a title.
Saudi Arabia, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Morocco, Malaysia, Japan and Iceland are among the other countries that have specific laws regarding baby naming or lists of banned names.
In Germany, you have to be able to tell the gender of a child by their first name. Also, you can’t use last names or the names of objects as first names. In Sweden, the law began in 1982, originally created to prevent non-noble families from giving their children noble names.
Choosing an unusual baby name…
In the UK the law is a lot less strict compared to those mentioned above, but it’s still important to consider how choosing an unusual name might impact a child’s life.
There are some benefits to giving a baby an unusual name, but if you opt for something very unconventional, you may need to consider the challenges that this may present to your child throughout their lifetime.
Children with very unusual names may experience bullying or questioning that a child with a more traditional name might not experience. In order to prepare them for the likelihood of this ever happening to them, it is important to teach them to how to stand up for themselves should this ever occur. In addition, you might have to focus a little harder on ensuring that they have great self-esteem, to avoid any nasty comments designed to knock their confidence.
If you’re searching for an unusual baby name that you will legally be able to name your child try the Namey app for ideas and inspiration. Download Namey from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store today.