ANDIE NOONAN

Debate over proposed legislation which would give access to IVF and surrogacy for Victorian lesbian and gay couples is expected in parliament this week.

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) bill, earmarked for a conscience vote, will be tabled in the lower house. If passed, the ART legislation would allow lesbian couples and single women access to fertility treatment. Currently access to ART in Victoria requires a women be deemed clinically infertile.

The bill also deals with surrogacy, smoothing the way for gay men to access non-commercial surrogacy with provision to gain parentage of a child through the County Court once the child is born.

Changes which will allow the non-birth mother to be named on a child’s birth certificate have been welcomed by the lesbian and gay community.

Rainbow Families spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe said the changes will lift discriminatory barriers.

Things like signing release forms, so children can have Panadol in child care, all that sort of thing, will recognise the non-birth mother as a parent which is going to be great, she told the Star.

Part of our campaign has always been looking at social recognition and something like having a birth certificate that recognises a child’s family will mean that there is more official understanding of our families.

Marlowe said the conscience vote was a concern. A conscience vote makes you work harder, but it also gives you an opportunity to talk to everybody about the issues that affect our families, she said.

Premier John Brumby has already declared his support for the bill. Opposition leader Ted Baillieu has said the technology should only be available to hetereosexual couples. Nationals leader Peter Ryan does not support the change of law.

The bill is expected to pass in the lower house but it may face problems in the upper house where the government doesn’t have an outright majority.

Victoria is one of the last states to change to allow greater access to IVF.

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