The Government is proposing that both children born to lesbian partners have both partners recognised as parents on their birth certificates.
Gay partners are excluded from the proposal. However, if there is a surrogacy arrangement, other than through commercial surrogacy, it is planned that gay couples may be able to be recognised as parents under the planned surrogacy changes.
The proposal is set out in an issues paper released by Attorney-General Cameron Dick.
The proposed changes do not apply to all children born to same sex couples, unlike the laws in the ACT, but mirroring existing laws in NSW, Victoria, WA, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth which are limited to children conceived via IVF to lesbian couples.
The proposed changes should overcome the difficulties from the Family Court decision in Verner v. Vine, which I have posted about several times before.
In that case, two women who had gone to an IVF clinic argued about whether or not they were in a lesbian relationship. One woman said to the court that they were not, the other said that they were. The judge believed the former, with the result that the latter was denied any relationship with the child born to the other woman. The effect of that decision, until these changes become law, is that some birth mothers in lesbian relationships might try to assert that they were not in a lesbian relationship, with the intent of denying their former partner any relationship with the child, and might succeed in that object.
The changes should allow both partners to register their names as parents, which should mean proper recognition for the co-parent.
Public comment on the proposals is open until 18 September.