By Stephen Page

New laws allowing altruistic surrogacy in Queensland took effect on June 1, overturning old laws that criminalised all forms of surrogacy.

In an historic change, it is now possible for Queenslanders to legally enter into altruistic surrogacy arrangements, and then have court orders made reflecting the parentage of the intended parents.

The Surrogacy Act 2010 makes it a requirement for those undertaking surrogacy to have counselling and legal advice before entering into any arrangements. The sooner people get advice about the complexities of undertaking surrogacy, the better.

To undertake a surrogacy arrangement of any kind is a huge emotional commitment, but often the only course open to those who cannot imagine functioning without children.

Very few lawyers have any expertise about surrogacy laws. By contrast, I have advised local, interstate and overseas clients about surrogacy, including Queensland and interstate laws.

Altruistic surrogacy applies to all: gay, straight, lesbian, bi, trans, couples, singles. There is no discrimination in its legalisation.

Commercial surrogacy remains illegal. It is still an offence for any Queenslander who goes to an overseas surrogacy clinic, in California, India or Thailand, for example. Any Queenslander who is contemplating doing this should get legal advice first, because in addition to any other penalty, they may prejudice their career if convicted.

Lesbian couples can now be recognised on birth certificates as parents for the first time.

This change, along with coverage of LGBTI people, was vigorously opposed by the Opposition, some of whom only wanted married couples to be included.

Along with the manager of QAHC, Paul Martin, and other advocates in the LGBTI community, I was privileged to be present when the historic vote passed in state Parliament earlier this year.

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