By Stephen Page The proposed changes to Queensland’s surrogacy laws by the Newman government to exclude same sex couples and singles is intended to criminalise, by up to 3 years jail, any same sex couples and singles who seek to be parents through a surrogacy arrangement.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced in Parliament last week that the government would amend the Surrogacy Act to exclude same sex couples, singles, and heterosexual de facto couples of less than 2 years, in accordance with the earlier proposals of Lawrence Springborg, when he was the then opposition Justice spokesman.
Surrogacy is when a woman agrees to have a baby for you, usually involving the services of an IVF clinic, and then hands over the baby to you after the birth.
Bleijie also announced that lesbian co-mothers would no longer be recognised as parents on birth certificates. Whether this means that lesbian co-mothers who have already been named as parents will be removed as parents from the birth certificates is not known.
The then Bligh government was clear that the Surrogacy Act should not discriminate, because to do so would lead to second class children. The proposal by the Newman government is quite clear in its effect that treatment would not be able to be provided by clinics where the intended parents are same sex couples, singles or heterosexual de facto couples of less than 2 years.
The proposed surrogacy changes are in breach of Australia’s human rights obligation. The Springborg bill was quite clear that it offended Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Act. It almost certainly fails the Federal Sex Discrimination Act, too, leaving it, if enacted, open to successful challenge.
As then Queensland Law Society President, and now LNP politician Ian Berry stated: “I support the principle that same sex couples should be able to become the legal parents of a child. I believe that limiting access to surrogacy arrangements based on the sexual preference of the parties is highly undesirable” which “would offend” the Family Law Act, and “Australia’s human rights obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Economic Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
For example, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Article 7 says: “All are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.”
The proposed changes to lesbian co-mothers’ parenting will, incredibly, allow these women to be recognised under the Family Law Act as “parents” but not under corresponding Queensland law.
The likely effect of the proposed surrogacy changes is that intended parents will move interstate, such as to Sydney or Melbourne, where there is no such discrimination.
By Stephen Page
The proposed changes to Queensland’s surrogacy laws by the Newman government to exclude same sex couples and singles is intended to criminalise, by up to 3 years jail, any same sex couples and singles who seek to be parents through a surrogacy arrangement.