Standing up for equality
If there has been one thing that has fired me up as a lawyer over the years, it has been when people have not been treated equally. We should all be presumed to be equal before the law, but unfortunately that does not always happen. Too often I have had to stand up for clients, because they have been oppressed by others- occasionally by laws, but more often by another person, for example, their violent ex.
The Queensland government is planning to reverse laws so that certain intended parents will not only no longer be eligible to be parents under surrogacy arrangements, but could be jailed for up to 3 years if they pursue their dream. In the words of one of my clients, it is a case of Government playing God. If passed, this will be the first time that I am aware of in the history of our country when rights that have been granted to a group have then been reversed- because of the characteristics of that group.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against the Queensland Government. It was, after all, democratically elected. The Premier and I, for example, share a strong belief that domestic violence is wrong. He made sure, as Brisbane’s Lord Mayor a couple of years ago, that funding was made available to enable a few White Ribbon Ambassadors including me to meet in Townsville to help give the Department of Communities feedback about the proposed domestic violence laws. Those proposed laws are now the Domestic Violence and Family Protection Act 2012, the last piece of legislation passed by the Bligh government, but with strong LNP support.
But I do have something against a policy that gives government the right to choose who can and can’t be parents. It was because of that reason that I attended and spoke at the launch of Queenslanders for Equality. Shortly afterwards I discovered, to my surprise, that I had become the convenor! This was not a position I sought, but was thrust upon me. Now I have to do my best so that the rights of all can be protected.