THE ability of fertility treatment providers to refuse access to gay couples is being challenged with campaigners saying current guidelines encourage discrimination.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) has raised its concerns in a submission to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Answerable to the federal health minister, the NHMRC develops and maintains standards of healthcare.

Currently, fertility clinics are able to bar treatment to members of the public “if any member of staff or students expresses a conscientious objection to the treatment”.

NSW GLRL Policy Officer Jed Horner said the guidelines in place could lead to LGBTI couples being blocked from accessing fertility treatment.

“In our view, this creates a situation in which discrimination could easily occur against LGBTI people engaged in [assisted reproduction] procedures and this is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“It is also inconsistent with the protections provided under the Sex Discrimination Act which largely outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”

Public submissions on the NHMRC’s guidelines surrounding the use of assisted reproductive technology, which apply nationally, close on Wednesday, April 30.

Submissions to the NSW Government’s review of the Surrogacy Act 2010 are also due on Wednesday.

Passed three years ago, following a conscience vote, the act made it legal for de facto and same-sex couples in NSW to apply for parentage orders.

Its guiding principle is “that, in relation to any surrogacy arrangement, the best interests of the child of the surrogacy arrangement are paramount”.

The NSW GLRL said they were seeking to protect the gains made under the act.

“The enactment of this legislation in 2010 following sustained lobbying, resulted in legislative equality in terms of surrogacy arrangements, as well as increased certainty in terms of transfer of parentage,” Horner said.

“We are seeking to have no major revisions to the Act made, other than the insertion of a new guiding principle that recognises the importance of protecting the diversity of family forms, something that the Act sought to achieve in the first instance.”

Public submissions on the NSW Surrogacy Act can be made until April 30. CLICK HERE for more details 

Public submissions to the Review Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research can be made until April 30 at the NHMRC’s website

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