Gay Dads Australia are concerned about an amendment to criminalise overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements.
Under Labor MP and Minister for Community Services Linda Burney’s amendment, NSW residents entering into overseas surrogacy arrangements could face up to two years in prison or a fine of $110,000 or both.
Burney has said the aim of the amendment is to protect poor women from being taken advantage of.
The Member for Sydney spoke in support of Burney’s amendment during debate in the Legislative Assembly last night where it was successfully attached to the bill along with another by Frank Sartor.
Gay Dads Australia Co-moderator Rodney Chiang-Cruise has called on people who are concerned by the legislation to contact Members of the Legislative Council before they pass the bill and ask them to oppose the amendment.
“Time is of the essence here,” said Chiang-Cruise, “If you care about the effects of this legislation … whether you live in NSW or not, please contact your Upper House members and the attorney general ASAP.”
“Explain why it is a bad idea and that there are already hundreds of children in NSW who will be stigmatised by such draconian legislation.”
Chiang-Cruise said that a source had told him that supporters of the bill had the numbers to pass the bill without the Burney amendment and that a number of parliamentarians had their own concerns about the amendment.
He urged concerned individuals to both email and call the offices of MLCs.
The bill could be debated in the Legislative Council as early as tonight or tomorrow.
Contact details for Members of the NSW Legislative Council can be found
Update 5:00pm debate on the bill has begun in the Legislative Council
Update 5:35pm Attorney General John Hatzistergos supported the bill as amended- clarified a question by ALP Linda Voltz that penalties were not retrospective to MPs and would not effect people who where a child was still in utero as a result of a current surrogacy arrangement.
ALPs Greg Donnelly supported both amendments despite opposing the original bill.
Nationals Trevor Khan spoke against the Burney bill reading from a letter from a constituent concerned that the bill would hurt children through denying them legal recognition. Suggested bill should be restricted to arrangements which were illegal in the country they were carried out.
David Shoebridge of the Greens spoke against the Burney and Sartor amendments.
Labor’s Christine Robertson supported the Sartor amendment and Burney amendment.
Fred Nile read from an email from Linda Burney and sought to have it incorporated into hansard- he supported both amendments.
Liberal John Ajaka spoke in favour of both amendments.
Liberal Matthew Mason-Cox spoke in favour of both amendments despite having opposed the bill in an earlier vote.
Gordon Moyes of Family First NSW supported both amendments despite earlier opposing the bill.
At 5:35 Trevor Khan moved an amendment to remove the effect of the Burney amendment from commercial surrogacy arrangements which are legal in the countries that they occur.
Labor’s Luke Foley then spoke in favour of both amendments.
Final Update: Labor’s Penny Sharpe said she would not oppose the Burney amendment despite having concerns it might act as a disincentive to parents who sought commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas from seeking parenting orders for their children which would leave legal responsibilities to those children unclarified.
Labor’s Greg Donnelly spoke in favour of the amendments again.
Labor’s Helen Westwood spoke of her comfort in supporting the Sartor amendment. She voiced concerns about the Burney amendment but would not oppose it in order to avoid having the legislation held up.
Trevor Khan’s amendment to remove commercial surrogacy arrangements in countries where they were legal from being covered by the bill was defeated 29-8.
The bill as amended by Sartor and Burney then passed the Legislative Council.