A new group, Australian Families Through Gestational Surrogacy (AFTGS), will be launched in Sydney on February 28 — a day before legislation banning commercial surrogacy comes into effect.

AFTGS convenor Sam Everingham told the Star Observer the founders of the group were members of the Gay Dads Australia website, but they quickly saw a need for a group that could represent families regardless of sexuality.

“When the NSW Government changed the law to make it a criminal act, we decided we needed something a bit more official that could do lobbying and advocacy work as well as giving the gay and straight communities information about surrogacy,” Everingham said.

“There is a lot of confusion about what you can and can’t do in terms of having families if you’re a gay couple or if you’re a straight couple who can’t have children.”

Everingham said the gay community had been better prepared on the issue while the heterosexual response had initially been uncoordinated.

“We thought they could learn from what the gay community had done and we felt that if we include everybody who is interested in commercial surrogacy it would have a stronger voice,” he said. “The straight families using surrogacy have jumped at this opportunity.”

Everingham said the law was offensive to families created through commercial surrogacy and those who wished to do that in a number of ways.

“Through this law, the Government is saying, ‘The family you have created is a family we don’t approve of’,” he said.

“A lot of families are upset about the criminalisation being extended offshore.”

NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos will explain the ban and how it will work at the launch, while Professor Jenni Millbank will speak on the ramifications of the ban, and Greens Legislative Council candidate David Shoebridge will outline his party’s commitment to change the law.

Sydneysider Nick Bone, who has a 10-month-old son conceived in India before the ban, said the new law was “completely unreasonable and unjustified”.

“Not enough research into the realities of it had been done,” he said.

“They were talking about exploiting Third World women. Our surrogate benefited by helping her family, by helping her child’s education and through a higher standard of living. And what about surrogacy that goes on in America — that’s a First World country so how can the ban be justified there?”

info: Australian Families Through Gestational Surrogacy launch is on February 28, 6pm at the Lyceum Theatre, Wesley Conference Centre, 220 Pitt St, Sydney.

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