A mum who named her newborn son Citizen has learnt that the unusual moniker could “possibly be illegal”.
Choosing a baby name for an actual human can be a tricky prospect. If you choose something from the most popular list you run the risk of your child being one of five Olivia or Olivers on the pre-school register. Hardly surprising, therefore, that parents-to-be are increasingly opting to look for something a little more unique.
The trouble is that in the strive for a stand-out name some mums and dads-to-be risk choosing something banned.
Just ask Claire Alexander-Johnston.
The mum-of-four from Byron Bay, Australia, recently revealed that the naming process for her fourth child had taken longer than expected after she ran into a potential legal issue.
Sharing some sweet images of her newborn son on her Instagram account Jetsetmama, she wrote: “Welcome to the family Citizen Sage Alexander-Johnston.
“Sorry this naming business has taken so long! We had a bit of a curveball when we announced your name to our family, as someone pointed out, it’s possibly illegal to name you that in Australia, as it falls loosely under the category of ‘title’ like ‘King’ ‘Duke’ ‘Lord’ or ‘Captain’.
“We tried to change it. ‘Disco’ even came back into play! But nothing else felt right for you as a Libra, with a [very sensible and grounded] Capricorn moon. So Citizen you are, and always will be - a Citizen of the world.”
According to Australian law, names that are contrary to the public interest by being “misleading” are often banned.
The Births Deaths and Marriages site states: “the name might contain an official title, position or rank recognised in the community that might mislead others as to whether the person holds that title or rank officially.”
Over in the UK similar rulings apply. According to Deedpoll.org.uk restrictions on names will come into force if the prospective name may result in others believing you have a conferred or inherited honour, title, rank or academic award.
“For example, a change of first name to Sir, Lord, Laird, Lady, Prince, Princess, Viscount, Baron, Baroness, General, Captain,” the site explains.
Whether or not the moniker Citizen is illegal, it certainly received a positive response from Claire’s followers, with many praising the mum’s bold choice.
“So has it been approved by the BDM!? Such a cool name and so hope it gets approved if its not already,” one follower wrote.
“What an amazing name!!!” agreed another.
“Citizen Sage is an epic name for an epic wee man,” yet another fan commented.
The mum is obviously a fan of unusual monikers as her eldest three children are called Atlas, Everest and Zephyr and Citizen’s middle name is Sage.
Other banned baby names
Alexander-Johnston isn’t the only parent to find themselves pushing baby name boundaries.
Last year it was revealed a French couple had been banned from naming their baby girl, Liam, after a judge warned she could get confused about her gender.
The unnamed parents wanted to give their third child, born in November, the traditionally-male name, but French prosecutors stepped in.
The court in Quimper, north west France ruled that the new parents would not be able to use the character ñ (called a tilde) in their baby’s name.
Instead Jean-Christophe Bernard and his wife were told that they would have to find an alternative.
In 2015 a court in Valenciennes, decided that a couple would not be allowed to name their daughter ‘Nutella’.
The judge decided that it wouldn’t be in the child’s best interest to be named after a chocolate spread.
“The name ‘Nutella’ given to the child is the trade name of a spread,” the court’s decision read, according to a translation.
“And it is contrary to the child’s interest to be wearing a name like that can only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts (sic).”
Back in the UK, a Welsh mother was banned by a high court from calling her baby twin daughter Cyanide (her brother was named Preacher).
In more positive baby naming news, last year the parents of a four-year-old boy were finally granted permission to name their son Yoda from the ‘Star Wars’ film franchise after an objection from the civil registry office and language council.