A Senate inquiry into rules governing sperm and egg donation in Australia will stop accepting submissions on Friday.
Issues up for discussion include payments for donors, the number of offspring born from each donor, and the rights of donor conceived persons.
A same-sex couple wrote to complain about time constraints placed on using sperm from the same donor, as well as the number of women that could use sperm from the same donor under NSW’s Assisted Reproductive Technology Act.
“As of January 1 2010 the definition of how many people were allowed to use the same donor in Australia [changed to] ‘how many women’ rather than … ‘how many families’,” the couple wrote.
“I cant see any reasonable reason for this change in legislation which would only affect lesbians. It seems very homophobic.”
Most submissions to the inquiry have been from donor-conceived children calling for the same rights to information about their donors as adopted persons have about biological parents.
However FamilyVoice Australia, a conservative Christian group formerly known as The Festival of Light, has used the inquiry to call for the total banning of donor conception in Australia.
The FamilyVoice submission refers to donor conception as “a decades-long social experiment”, concluding, “Everything possible should be done to prevent any further donor conceptions”.
No GLBTI rights groups have lodged submissions as yet, with NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby policy coordinator Senthorun Raj telling Sydney Star Observer, that “due to other lobbying priorities, we are unable to provide a detailed submission to this inquiry”.
However the Lobby is encouraging community members to make their own submissions.
Raj said it was vital clinical regulations around egg and sperm donation did not discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
“This includes providing individuals and couples access to assisted reproductive technologies on the basis of social, as well as medical, infertility,” he said.
“Limiting a donor to five ‘women’, indirectly discriminates against lesbian couples where each partner in the relationship seeks to conceive via donor insemination and have genetically related children.”
Raj said the problem could be solved by changing the provision in the act to deal with the number of donations to each family rather than to individual women.
“Counselling should also be provided for all individuals and couples engaged in ART, before, during and after the procedure,” he said.
The inquiry, by the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, has been running since June 23 and will report its finding on November 30.