The West Australian government is planning a review of its surrogacy laws which may see same-sex couples in the state finally granted access to altruistic surrogacy.

Western Australia is the last Australian state or territory that legally prohibits same-sex couples access to surrogates, alongside the Northern Territory where there are no laws regulating the practice.

The WA state government has admitted that the laws are outmoded and discriminatory and that a shift in community attitudes has made the review an imperative.

Health Minister Roger Cook announced the independent review of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology (ART) legislation, which could also see people who were conceived through donors given the right to access information about them, which was previously withheld.

Currently, a person who was donor-conceived prior to December 2004 is not granted the automatic legal right to information about their identity.

WA’s laws have forced some same-sex couples to head overseas to access surrogates.

“The review is long overdue,” Cook told The West Australian.

“The existing Western Australian surrogacy and human reproductive technology laws are outdated, discriminatory, and are currently out of step with several Australian States.”

The legislation currently states that in instances of surrogacy the “persons seeking to be treated as a couple must be married or in a de facto relationship and must be of the opposite sex to each other”.

South Australia last year updated its laws to allow for same-sex surrogacy following a review conducted by legal academic Sonia Allan, who will now head up Western Australia’s review.

Other elements of legislation which will be reassessed include legal rights over embryos, eggs and sperm in the event of divorce or death, as well as genetic testing of embryos.

Further information about the review is on the WA Department of Health website, and submissions to the review can be made up until March 16.

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