Sunday, 7 December 2008

Australian women go to Thailand to select the sex of their child

The Herald Sun reports that Australian women and couples, denied by Australian doctors the ability in IVF to choose the gender of their child, are going to Thailand where they can choose. At least 10 women or couples have been there so far.

According to ethical guidelines, Australian doctors can only allow the ability to choose the gender when it is to reduce the transmission of a serious genetic condition.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Vic Bill passes both Houses

Last night I posted about how the Victorian Upper House had passed, with amendments, the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill, and that this was to go back to the Lower House.

I was contacted by SBS Radio today and told that the bill passed the Lower House late last night. No mucking about there!

I do not know when the Bill will take effect.

Milk- great film

Harvey Milk

I know it's a bit off topic, but on Tuesday night I went to the preview screening of Milk, the moving story of the life and death of Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay politician. Qnews sponsored the preview in Brisbane.

Harvey Milk ended up living in San Francisco (where else?) and spearheaded the gay rights movement there and was an inspiration for many throughout the US and throughout the world.

Sean Penn was superb in the title role, and seemed to capture all the nuances of the character.

In the course of the film, Harvey Milk challenges Proposition 6 which was sponsored by a cohort of then right wing activist Anita Bryant, which sought to throw teachers out of school if they were gay or lesbian, or if they were supported of gays and lesbians.

The story demonstrated why people power can be such a powerful force for change.

Hearing about Proposition 6 reminded me very much of the current struggles in California arising from Proposition 8, which was partly sponsored by the Mormon Church. It surprised me that Ronald Reagan, of all people, was opposed to Proposition 6, which he considered unnecessary.

The most touching moment for me, however, was not in the film itself. It was seeing a friend of mine afterwards, tears welling up in his eyes, tell me that he knew two of the men in the film, saw them in the film (as they played themselves) and had been inspired by them years ago to be an activist.

Harvey Milk is due to be released at the end of January.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Vic Bill passes Upper House

The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill was passed by the Victorian Legislative Council tonight,but with amendments, meaning that it will need to return to the lower House for approval next year.

The Bill will legalise surrogacy in Victoria, and will allow single women and lesbians formally to access IVF services in Victoria. Single women and lesbians already have this right in Victoria, because the Federal and High Court decisions in Re McBain have held in effect that Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws override Victorian laws which otherwise prevent single women and lesbians accessing IVF services.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Today is World Aids Day

Today, 1 December 2008, is the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day. In 1988, the World Health Organization declared the first World AIDS Day in an effort to raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Complacency has snuck in about our reaction to HIV/AIDS, with the inevitable result- infection rates have risen, and continue to rise.

Two years ago, on behalf of Qnews, I travelled to San Francisco and handed over examples of a campaign run in Qnews based on California campaigns targetting young men who have ended up with AIDS. In my naivete I was surprised to learn from Stop Aids deputy director Jason Riggs about how one quarter of the gay men in the Bay area had HIV/AIDS and that although no positive link could be established, infection rates waxed and waned at the same time with the number of those using Ice- when Ice usage rates went up, so did HIV infections, and when Ice usage rates went down, so did the number of new infections.

I was also surprised to learn that syphilis and gonorrhea rates had increased. Where were the new infections? I was told mainly among positive gay men. Why had those rates gone up? I was told that the anecdotal evidence was that positive men sought out other positive men, and as both were positive, did not use protection. Result- the spread of these old nasties. Added to that- those with HIV/AIDS not surprisingly had lower immunity- meaning that they got a lot sicker from the old nasties than someone who was not infected with HIV/AIDS.