It’s been a promising start for the Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) Bill, with its passage through the Victorian lower house last week.

Put to a conscience vote, MPs backed the legislation by 48 votes to 36.

The passage was welcomed by Rainbow Families spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe who said she was quietly optimistic the legislation would pass through the upper house in two weeks.

Opposition leader Ted Baillieu voiced his rejection of the bill, saying IVF should only be available to married and de facto couples because life is complex enough.

Kids deserve the basics. Every child has got a father and mother and I think that ought to be the starting point, he said.

Labor MPs Christine Campbell, James Merlino, George Seitz and Marlene Kairouz also voted against the bill.

Marlowe rebuked Baillieu’s claims, saying children have a legal right to know their family.

We think children require certainty about their parents and who their family is, and that is what the bill will do.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Stephen Jones also welcomed the bill’s passage through the lower house but said it is still in unsafe waters.

The abortion bill gave us a true representation of who our community’s enemies are in the upper house.

But the bill hasn’t been without its detractors. Christian lobbyists claim the IVF laws banning lesbians were struck down as a result of judicial activism and should be restored.

Current arrangements allowing IVF access to single women and lesbians are not in the best interest of children. Evidence supports the fact that children do best when raised by both a mother and a father,

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Jim Wallace told a federal Senate inquiry last month.
If passed, the Victorian bill would allow lesbian couples and single women access to fertility treatment as well as smoothing the way for surrogates and increased legal rights for gay fathers.

With Harley Dennett

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