The Queensland government’s proposal to strip gay couples of surrogacy rights is in breach of domestic and international human rights laws, a leading surrogacy lawyer says. Family lawyer and LGBTI rights advocate Stephen Page (pictured), of Harrington Family Lawyers told ABC Radio that the proposed changes would breach both the federal Sex Discrimination Act and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“The people I’ve seen who’ve had their children through surrogacy love them to bits, it makes no difference about their sexuality,” Page said.
In June 2012 Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced the government’s intention to amend state legislation to deny surrogacy rights to same-sex couples, single people and de facto couples of less than two years’ duration. Passed by the Anna Bligh Labor government in 2010, the Surrogacy Act allows LGBTI couples over 25 to enter into altruistic surrogacy arrangements and have children.
Prior to the March 2012 state election that saw the Liberal-National Party (LNP) elected in a landslide, now-Premier Campbell Newman stated that the LNP would make no attempt to change or repeal existing surrogacy arrangements. The proposed changes follow the Queensland government’s rollback of landmark legislation that established civil unions in 2011.
In June the government announced its intention to replace state recognition of same-sex relationships with a relationship register.
Despite fierce opposition from Labor Party MPs and some independents, the legislation passed after only five hours of debate with an overwhelming majority in Queensland’s unicameral parliament.
The government has not yet announced when it will introduce the surrogacy amendments into Parliament.