WA laws on their way to allow single men and gay couples access to surrogacy
When the Surrogacy Act 2008 (WA) passed, it allowed single women, heterosexual couples, and lesbian couples to undertake surrogacy, but actively discriminated against single men and gay couples.
That discrimination continued unabated.
In 2015, Australia copped a shellacking at the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva and as a result vowed to remove exemptions under the federal Sex Discrimination Act that allowed the States to discriminate against LGBTI people in the provision of assisted reproductive treatment and surrogacy. The federal government said it would end those exemptions by 1 August 2016. And indeed it did- except for Western Australia. For some reason, the exemption was continued for Western Australia until 1 August 2017.
In May 2017 I wrote to the WA Deputy Premier and Health Minister calling for the removal of this exemption. The response was that this would be considered by the Health Department. The next step was the holding of a review of ART and surrogacy laws in Western Australia. And now we have the bill- which will remove that discrimination if passed.
When the debate occurred yesterday, all the usual tired arguments in opposition as to the rights of the child were trotted out. Similarly, a gay MP and a lesbian MP spoke passionately in favour of the change.
The leader of the Nationals, Mia Davies, spoke passionately in favour of the change.
If the change is made, then it is likely that WA single men and gay couples will be able to access surorgacy at home rather than go abroad.
The sobering statistics are that in the 10 years that WA has allowed surrogacy, only 1 child a year has been born there through surrogacy- a total of 10, from 34 surrogacy agreements. To put this into context, in most years 250 children are born to Australians through overseas surrogacy. If WA parents go overseas at the same rate as everyone else, then that means for every child born through surrogacy in WA, 23 or 24 have been born overseas. What kind of surrogacy system is it that forces people to go overseas (and some to developing countries) at the rate of 24 to 1, rather than doing so at home?