Queensland Surrogacy Bill passes
The Courier-Mail is reporting that about an hour ago, the Queensland Government’s Bill passed 45/36. The Bill:
- was vehemently opposed by the Opposition, who although supporting surrogacy for married and heterosexual de facto couples, opposed coverage for same sex couples, and singles, and opposed lesbian co-mothers being recognised on birth certificates.
- decriminalises altruistic surrogacy in Queensland
- allows for regulation of altruistic surrogacy, including involving extensive counselling and the making of orders in the Children’s Court.
- once assented to by the Governor, is due to comemnce on a date to be fixed.
The Opposition put up its own version, which was in most respects identical to the Government’s, except for the differences I talked about above (and that it was due to start on April Fool’s Day).
There has been extensive media coverage. I have set out a good batch of that on my Twitter account: http://twitter.com/stephenpagelaw
I was interviewed on 4BC and by the Courier-Mail.
As the debate wore on, over two days, I started to listen in to the streaming of the debate from Parliament. I saw some of the speech by Michael Choi, who was one of two Government MP’s, who in exercising their conscience in a rare conscience vote, crossed the floor.
Finally this afternoon, after a client had cancelled an appointment, I walked down to Parliament House and watched the debate. Margaret Keech, the other Government MP to cross, told the House why she could not in good conscience support the Government’s Bill. She said that she had received many requests by LGBT people and others for ehr to change her mind, but felt that she could not.
The next speaker was ALP MP Grace Grace, who spoke with great passion about she and her husband were unable to have a child, and considered surroagcy but had pain in not following through because to do so would have been a criminal offence. She said about how they now had an adoptive daughter and could not be more proud of her daughter, as an adoptive mother. Ms Grace also said that in the past there was a social stigma for adopted children, and that in her conscience she believed that if the Opposition’s bill succeeded, then there would be a stigma for some children.
Following speeches by Lawrence Springborg, and Attorney-General Cameron Dick, the first division was called: for the second reading of the Bill. It was at this point that the 2 Government MP’s crossed the floor. The vote was won by the Government. It was at this point, about 5pm, that the Bill was won, as the numbers were there, even though it took another 3 hours to get passage of the Bill.
I had the pleasure to sit beside Paul Martin, Executive Director of Queensland Association of Healthy Communities, who only yesterday had called for respectful debate. Unfortunately, much of the debate was not respectful towards LGBT people. Over the weekend I will be trawling through Hansard and digging up some quotes. Some of the comments were repulsive, and bizarre. It is a pity that when we try to teach our child to tolerate and accept others for who they are, that in a debate about children there was in some quarters little tolerance or acceptance.
As soon as the second reading division was won, the Speaker reminded the House that due to a procedural point, as the Opposition’s Bill was almost identical to the Government’s, the Opposition Bill lapsed.
What surprised me most of all was that on the very night that the LGBT function was held at Parliament House and many, many LNP members were there, including Lawrence Springborg and John-Paul Langbroek, Lawrence Springborg was getting the Parliamentary Counsel, that very night, to draft his Bill whose chief feature was to exclude LGBT people.