Same-sex parents of children born by surrogates could soon be able to apply for legal recognition on birth certificates, following a call from the Standing Committee of Attorneys General for a nationally consistent approach to surrogacy laws.
In a paper released for public comment last week, the Standing Committee of Attorneys General made strong recommendations that Australia’s approach to surrogacy laws be further defined and standardised across the states.
Surrogacy laws currently differ from state to state, a situation which causes many unnecessary complications, Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.
-œThe differing laws on this complex and sensitive issue often force prospective parents to enter another Australian state or territory to have surrogate children, he said, before assuring that the Rudd Government was in complete support of a nationalised system.
-œLaws in some jurisdictions make it difficult for parents to obtain a passport or a school enrollment for children born through surrogacy, NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos said.
-œIf a national model is adopted, courts could grant a parentage order to a couple if it was in the best interests of the child and the surrogate mother had given her informed consent.
The suggestion could have interesting ramifications for same-sex couples with surrogate children considering there are currently states which do not recognise same-sex partners as joint parents in any situation.
In Queensland and South Australia there is no such recognition, while in Western Australia female same-sex couples can only apply to be recognised as parents in surrogacy cases where Assisted Reproductive Technologies have been used.
The paper raises for public debate the question of whether -œthis is an issue on which jurisdictions participating in a uniform national regime for the regulation of surrogacy should be free to differ, given the presently divergent laws in relation to the rights of same-sex parents to become parents?
This is just one of many questions raised within the paper, which members of the public can make submissions on until April 16.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Hayley Conway welcomed the recommendations for national laws for -œless progressive states and said laws should reflect the best interests of children.
-œ[Our] position is to ensure, particularly in this report, that it seeks to ensure the best interests of the child. There aren’t any guidelines as to what the best interests of the child may be, so certainly for us it’s important to recognise that same-sex couples are equally as good parents as opposite sex couples, she said.
-œThere’s no reason why a child’s best interests won’t be served with a same-sex couple.
Conway said taking a national approach on the surrogacy issue could also be lent to other issues such as IVF access and same-sex relationship registers.
-œIt does make a good case to say you need to keep doing these things at a federal level if states aren’t providing the same rights and access for citizens, she said.
info: A copy of the proposal and information on making a submission can be accessed via www.scag.org.au.