Same-sex parents of children born by surrogates could soon be able to apply for legal recognition on birth certificates, following a call from the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General for a nationally consistent approach to surrogacy laws.

In a paper released for public comment last week, the Standing Committee made strong recommendations that Australia’s approach to surrogacy laws be further defined and standardised across the states.

Surrogacy laws currently differ from state to state, a situation which causes many unnecessary complications, Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.

The differing laws on this complex and sensitive issue often force prospective parents to enter another Australian state or territory to have surrogate children, he said before assuring that the Rudd Government was in complete support of a nationalised system.

NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said, laws in some jurisdictions make it difficult for parents to obtain a passport or a school enrollment for children born through surrogacy.

If a national model is adopted, courts could grant a parentage order to a couple if it was in the best interests of the child and the surrogate mother had given her informed consent.

The suggestion could have interesting ramifications for same-sex couples with surrogate children considering that there are currently states which do not recognise same-sex partners as joint parents in any situation.

In Queensland and South Australia there is no such recognition, while in Western Australia female same-sex couples can only apply to be recognised as parents in surrogacy cases where Assisted Reproductive Technologies have been used.

The paper raises for public debate the question of whether this is an issue on which jurisdictions participating in a uniform national regime for the regulation of surrogacy should be free to differ, given the presently divergent laws in relation to the rights of same-sex parents to become parents?

This is just one of many questions raised in the paper. Members of the public can make submissions on the paper until April 16.

info: A copy of the proposal and information on making a submission can be accessed via www.scag.org.au.

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