Queensland surrogacy bills- the debate is on
It is often said that Queensland is different. Sometimes this is clearly apparent, as it is with the debate about surrogacy. There are two bills before the Queensland Parliament- the Goverment and Opposition bills.
There is little between them:
- both decriminalise altruistic surrogacy (although there are differences in coverage)
- both then regulate altruistic surrogacy, including with substitute parent orders
- both continue to criminalise commercial surrogacy, including Queensland residents going anywhere else in the world for commercial surrogacy
but there are these differences:
- the Government bill covers everyone: married, single, de factos and same sex
- the Opposition Bill covers only married couples and heterosexual de factos who have been together for 2 years
- the Government bill recognises lesbian co-parents on birth certificates, but the Opposition bill does not
- the Government bill is due to start on a date to be proclaimed, but the Opposition bill is to start on 1 April.
The debate on both bills will happen together tomorrow night.
In Victoria and WA recently there was bipartisan support for extended coverage of the surrogacy changes. Not in Queensland. The support in WA extended through the last state election, when the government changed sides, but the wide coverage surrogacy laws kept going until they were passed by Parliament.
Today I was interviewed by Michael Smith on 4BC about the Government’s bill. I spoke after Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby, who spoke strongly that homosexual people and single people should not be included.
It was suggested to me that the bill will enable people to have children on order. This is not the case. The bills will only allow the decriminalisation and regulation of altruistic surrogacy. Both sides of politics accept that this should happen. Altruistic surrogacy, by relying on a friend or family member to act as a surrogate, and there being extensive counselling and other checks and balances, means very clearly that babies are not “on order”. Both bills continue to criminalise commercial surrogacy.
It was also suggested that with some deft paperwork the baby will quickly change identity. This is not correct. The intended parents will have to apply to court. The court will have a series of factors to consider before making the order. The test which the court will be required to apply is similar to those in Victoria and the ACT, for example.