Victorian gay activists have stepped up their campaign for parenting equality following recommendations that IVF laws be changed to remove discrimination against lesbians.

In interim recommendations released last week, the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) said laws should be changed so women can access assisted reproductive technology (ART) regardless of sexuality or marital status.

At present, women who are not married or in a de facto relationship with a man must be clinically infertile or at risk of having a child with a genetic abnormality to legally access IVF in Victoria. In NSW, anyone can access ART.

But under the VLRC recommendations, a woman would not need to prove she was infertile to access IVF, The Age reported.

Instead, a woman could access ART if she was unlikely to become pregnant in her circumstances. This would include women without male partners.

The recommendations, which are part of an inquiry into access to ART and parenting reform, would also allow lesbians to be inseminated at a clinic, reducing the sometimes dangerous practice of self-insemination.

The proposed changes focus on the wellbeing of children born from ART, and the VLRC found no evidence that marital status has an impact on children’s welfare, Commission chair Professor Marcia Neave said.

Victorian gay activists have welcomed the recommendations, and are using the VLRC report to step up the campaign for parenting equality.

Felicity Martin, chair of the Fertility Access Rights Lobby (FARL), told Sydney Star Observer the recommendations would remove discrimination over access to IVF.

FARL, which launched its Love Makes A Family campaign for gay and lesbian parenting equality last December, was encouraging people to make submissions to the VLRC report, Martin said.

The VLRC recommendations are part of a positions paper that is open to public comment until 6 June.

Two more papers, examining adoption and surrogacy, are due before the VLRC hands down its final report into assisted reproduction and adoption later in the year.

Martin rejected criticism of the VLRC recommendations from conservatives such as federal Health minister Tony Abbott.

Last week Abbott accused the VLRC report of moving away from the traditional family model of male and female parents, The Age reported.

But Martin said support for the VLRC proposals could mean wider equality for gays and lesbians.

If we can win this battle on a state level, it will only bode well for future reforms around relationship recognition on a federal level, she said.

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