Thursday, 5 June 2008

NSW: Bill passes Upper House

I previously reported that New South Wales Attorney-General John Hatzistergos had introduced a Bill to Parliament to amend 55 pieces of legislation, including now providing a presumption that where a woman gives birth and is in a lesbian relationship and going through IVF, then her partner will also be deemed to be a parent.

This Bill, with amendments, has now passed the Upper House and is on its way to the Lower House.

Fred Nile's most significant amendment was to allow fathers to be shown on the birth certificate for children of lesbian couples, if the fathers wanted to. Here is what he (and Hatzistergos) said:


[Fred Nile]Insert after clause 5 (2):

(3) If the particulars supplied to the Registrar under section 14 of the Act specify that:

(a) a parent who is the father of the child wishes to be identified in the Register as the father, or

(b) a parent who is the birth mother of the child wishes to be identified in the Register as the mother,

or both, the particulars entered in the Register under section 17 of the Act must identify the parent as the father or mother, as the case requires. This subclause does not limit the particulars which may be included in the Register.

The amendment seeks to address the criticism that the bill's wording seems to devalue the role of the father in that it gives the appearance that the father would not be shown on the birth certificate in this circumstance. What appeared to be an omission and a downgrading of the role of the father has caused a deal of concern about the legislation as a whole; indeed, most of the criticism has focused on that aspect. I have been endeavouring, as have other members, to find a way of resolving that situation. The Attorney General has indicated that it was never the Government's intention to make any statement in the legislation about the role of the father or the importance of fatherhood. If that is the case—and I believe it to be the case—I seek the Government's support for the amendment and the support of Opposition members by way of a conscience vote.

The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS (Attorney General, and Minister for Justice) [11.22 p.m.]: The Government will support the amendment. As I clearly indicated in my second reading speech, it is not the Government's intention to modify the way birth certificates are issued in the sense of removing the names of mothers and fathers. Indeed, the current practice in relation to the naming of mothers and fathers has been an administrative practice that is not regulated by specific provisions. However, in order to allay any concerns we are happy to support the amendment.


Click here for Hansard of the debate.

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