The Tasmanian Upper House has passed laws that will allow gay and de facto couples to use a surrogate in order to have a child.

The government legislation, which has been awaiting a vote for more than a year, passed late last night on the eve of debate on the state’s same-sex marriage bill.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesman Rodney Croome welcomed the passage of the laws.

“These laws will provide a much-needed framework for recognising and protecting the rights of all parties in a surrogacy arrangement including the child,” he said.

“We particularly welcome the fact that the Upper House has treated same-sex couples involved in surrogacy arrangements the same as other couples.

“This sends a strong message to the community about respecting all Tasmanian families equally, and bodes well for a mature and considered debate on the government’s marriage equality bill.”

The Legislative Council made some amendments to the bill, tightening the conditions on entering into a surrogacy arrangement.

The age a woman can become a surrogate has been lifted to 25 and she must have previously given birth.

The amendments will now go to the Lower House where it is expected they will pass.

Today, the Tasmanian Lower House is expected to begin debate on proposed laws allowing same-sex couples to marry.

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