GAY MPs in Voiceland are supporting a law change that would give male same-sex couples the same rights as women for surrogate pregnancies.
Women who can’t conceive and female same-sex couples are allowed to use a surrogate mother as long as she is not paid, but it’s illegal for single men and same-sex male couples.
The proposed changes to the Human Reproductive Technology Act and the Surrogacy Act 2008 will continue wending its way through WA parliament, before a conscience vote is held.
Perth Labor MP John Carey told parliament on Tuesday the change was another small step towards equal rights, after recent laws to expunge historic convictions for homosexuality and legalise marriage equality.
“We are now at another turning point in our state’s history,” he said, warning arguments against same-sex surrogacy were “based on fear”.
“That fear stems from, and creates, homophobia in our society. It creates discrimination and even hatred against gay and lesbian people.
“I can tell those members who have not ever encountered discrimination that as an openly gay man, a state candidate and now a MP, I am still subject to homophobia and discrimination, whether it is being called a faggot by someone in the street, or whether it was being texted during the election campaign and called a paedophile.
“The reality is that in the 21st century, homophobia still exists.
“Every bit of reform that tackles discrimination and removes those barriers is critically important, not just for those same-sex male couples who wish to have a child, but also to all those younger generations who will see another path of discrimination dismantled from our legislation.”
He cited two recent studies “that overwhelmingly demonstrate that same-sex parenting couples produce successful and happy children.”
Maylands Labor MP Lisa Baker told parliament the issue was “not just near and dear to me heart, but very near and dear to my lifestyle”.
“I think it is an opportune moment for me to stand and say that I fundamentally believe that it is not up to us to say that it is okay for a lesbian couple, people like myself and others, to choose to have children, raise families, access surrogacy and do those kinds of things to bring children into our lives but that other members in this house who might be gay males would not be allowed to bring children into their relationships.
“I cannot possibly say that I am or would be a better parent than my male gay friends. What gives me the right to make a decision about whether they may or may not have a child?”
She cited Bayswater constituents Oliver Pincott and Matthew Clements, who wrote urging her to support the bill.
“Our options of starting a family in our own state are abated by the current law, and we are forced to look overseas at extraordinary expense and legal uncertainty,” they wrote.
“The journey of bringing a child into the world, becoming a parent for the first time, is one full of equal parts excitement and uncertainty.
“As an intended parent, having a known surrogate in your home state and assisting with the pregnancy, would provide comfort and support to all those involved.”
Some MPs spoke against the bill, including Liberal Cottesloe MP David Honey who said the changes were “overwhelmingly looking at the rights of the adults”.
“I believe that that view ignores the interest of the children,” he said.
“I have no doubt that children are most likely to achieve their full potential with a loving mother and father and, as I said, that view is supported by credible research.”
by DAVID BELL