Thursday, 11 February 2010

Queensland Surrogacy Bill passes

The Courier-Mail is reporting that about an hour ago, the Queensland Government's Bill passed 45/36. The Bill:

  • was vehemently opposed by the Opposition, who although supporting surrogacy for married and heterosexual de facto couples, opposed coverage for same sex couples, and singles, and opposed lesbian co-mothers being recognised on birth certificates.
  • decriminalises altruistic surrogacy in Queensland
  • allows for regulation of altruistic surrogacy, including involving extensive counselling and the making of orders in the Children's Court.
  • once assented to by the Governor, is due to comemnce on a date to be fixed.
The Opposition put up its own version, which was in most respects identical to the Government's, except for the differences I talked about above (and that it was due to start on April Fool's Day).

There has been extensive media coverage. I have set out a good batch of that on my Twitter account: http://twitter.com/stephenpagelaw

I was interviewed on 4BC and by the Courier-Mail.

As the debate wore on, over two days, I started to listen in to the streaming of the debate from Parliament. I saw some of the speech by Michael Choi, who was one of two Government MP's, who in exercising their conscience in a rare conscience vote, crossed the floor.

Finally this afternoon, after a client had cancelled an appointment, I walked down to Parliament House and watched the debate. Margaret Keech, the other Government MP to cross, told the House why she could not in good conscience support the Government's Bill. She said that she had received many requests by LGBT people and others for ehr to change her mind, but felt that she could not.

The next speaker was ALP MP Grace Grace, who spoke with great passion about she and her husband were unable to have a child, and considered surroagcy but had pain in not following through because to do so would have been a criminal offence. She said about how they now had an adoptive daughter and could not be more proud of her daughter, as an adoptive mother. Ms Grace also said that in the past there was a social stigma for adopted children, and that in her conscience she believed that if the Opposition's bill succeeded, then there would be a stigma for some children.

Following speeches by Lawrence Springborg, and Attorney-General Cameron Dick, the first division was called: for the second reading of the Bill. It was at this point that the 2 Government MP's crossed the floor. The vote was won by the Government. It was at this point, about 5pm, that the Bill was won, as the numbers were there, even though it took another 3 hours to get passage of the Bill.

I had the pleasure to sit beside Paul Martin, Executive Director of Queensland Association of Healthy Communities, who only yesterday had called for respectful debate. Unfortunately, much of the debate was not respectful towards LGBT people. Over the weekend I will be trawling through Hansard and digging up some quotes. Some of the comments were repulsive, and bizarre. It is a pity that when we try to teach our child to tolerate and accept others for who they are, that in a debate about children there was in some quarters little tolerance or acceptance.

As soon as the second reading division was won, the Speaker reminded the House that due to a procedural point, as the Opposition's Bill was almost identical to the Government's, the Opposition Bill lapsed.

What surprised me most of all was that on the very night that the LGBT function was held at Parliament House and many, many LNP members were there, including Lawrence Springborg and John-Paul Langbroek, Lawrence Springborg was getting the Parliamentary Counsel, that very night, to draft his Bill whose chief feature was to exclude LGBT people.

8 comments:

  1. Pauline - Toowoomba12 February 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I am very disappointed that this Bill has been passed. I do not believe that this is in the best interest of the child. Every child deserved to begin life with a loving Mother and Father as God designed the family unit to be. I empathise with couples who can't have a child of their own. What I am against is opening up births by surrogacy to same sex couples or individuals from either sex. This is what the LNP was standing against and I congratulate them for this effort.
    I cannot comprehend a child being brought up with 'two mums' or 'two dads'. What affect is this going to have on the child?
    Nature's way - God's way is the ideal. Pauline Toowoomba

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  2. Pauline you probably can't comprehend it because you are not very bright. You believe in "god"....and introduce it into your flawed argument. You are one of these people who talk to imaginary friends and whilst that is endearing in a 5 year old, in an adult such or yourself it is simply ridiculous.

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  3. Lucky that intelligent sound minded people do not believe the above ramblings of the mentally ill who speak with fictional characters.

    In all my years working in child protection I have NEVER seen children who have who have come from same sex parents- only abusive/ neglecting heterosexual people/ couples.

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  4. Hey Stephen,
    Good to meet you in the parliament gallery on Thursday.
    It certainly was interesting hearing the hateful speeches by the homophobes - I was very pleased my two children weren't old enough to understand what was going on.
    I actually thought Michael Choi's speech was great - I got a sense that he had really searched his conscience (even though I think he came to the wrong conclusion!). His speech was more what I was hoping for from the Opposition. Why does it always seem to be the 'Christians' who are advocating the hate?

    cheers Molly

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  5. I empathise with couples who can't have a child of their own. What I am against is opening up births by surrogacy to same sex couples or individuals from either sex. This is what the LNP was standing against and I congratulate them for this effort.

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  6. Melissa's point is really interesting. I also work with abused/disadvantaged children and have never come across one from a gay relationship. I believe same sex parents raise children to be tolerant of peoples differences, including religon, race and sexual orientation. They are brought up as well loved, well adjusted young people. What a shame the same cannot be said for children of heterosexual bigots.

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  7. I am a lesbian parent and the daughter of a gay father. So how about I have a say about what it's like in a family with same sex parents. Instead of Miss Pauline (from Toowoomba) making assumptions and comments about things she knows nothing about.

    My father is gay, and I grew up with him and his life partner from when I was 8 years old until I was 19 years old... then I married a man, later we separated and I found out I was pregnant. I have been a lesbian since my son was only 2 years old.

    Now as a child of a gay dad, He loved me and hugged me, so did his partner. I had weekend visitation with my mum & her boyfriend (like all children of divorce). I went to school, got good grades, made healthy, strong and life-long relationships with my friends. (I have friends who I have known since I was 4, and we are still good friends today, (they are straight and except me being gay). I dated boys and eventually got married to my teenage sweetheart at 20 years old. We set up house, worked, had holidays, hung out with friends and planned a family (like all married couples). However, our marriage was not to last and we separated after 3 years together, when I was 21 years old.

    I then found out I was pregnant, and decide to have the child on my own, as a single parent. When my son was 2 years old I realised I had an interest in woman that extended past friendship. By the time my son was 3 years old, I had my first long term girlfriend. I have had 2 long term relationships with woman since then and have a partner now. My son has loved all my partners and also loves his dad, who he sees every Christmas for a few weeks, as we live 1500km apart. I have male friends... My son's mates have dad's... and my mum is still with her boyfriend of 30 years... and my dad is still with his boyfriend of 36 years... So he is surrounded by males.

    My son is well adjusted, has a girlfriend, and lots of mates... loves computer & xbox games, (like all teenagers)... He's very smart & loves reading like his dad, and very polite like his dad, has the same sense of humour as his dad. Even though my son has lived his whole life with me, He is nothing like me, in looks or personality.. He has spent maybe a few months with his dad in his whole life, and he is the spitting image of his dad in every way.

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  8. I mention all of this to dispute the need for a child to have a man or a woman in their life. My son is soft and gentle, and polite and intelligent, and has a funny sense of humour, not because he grew up with me a woman and lacked a man's influence, but because he was born to his father. It was all passed in his genes.

    I kick footballs, I'm rough, and don't mind getting dirty, I drive 4wd's and love getting outside... My son wont kick a football, hates getting dirty and I have to encourage him to spend time outside. None of this comes from his lesbian mother but comes from his straight father. I like reading non-fiction, he likes reading fiction (his dad reads fiction) etc.

    Please everyone who wants to make a bad comment about someone else's family, think before you speak because there's a good chance you don't know what you are talking about, and are quite ill-informed.

    My son didn't ask to be my son but when you say there is something wrong with our life, you are telling him that there is something wrong with him and there is nothing wrong with him. Any person would be blessed to have such an awesome and beautiful child such as my son.

    Also some other information, for those who may feel the need to stereotype me and my family.

    My dad & his partner are both hard working business men and wore suits all my growing up life to work and normal clothes on the weekend (I never saw a sequence top in the washing up basket LOL), can both cook & clean, and build things in the yard and taught me how to change the oil etc in my car. Now they are both 60yo they are slowing down a lot, and enjoy slower and more relaxing activities, like chats with friends or watching tv... they still potter in the garden whenever possible.

    I am a very feminine looking 37yo lesbian... I wear dresses, makeup, I straighten my hair, I wear jeans, t-shirts, singlets & pretty girly tops. The same can be said about my girlfriend. I can cook, but am lousy at housework (my girlfriend is much better than me)... I need a maid. I do gardening, can fix my car, I love camping, can set up my own tent. I don't mind getting dirty (my girlfriend hates it) and my son thinks my beautiful girlfriend is awesome. We have a great time together.

    We communicate well and keep each other informed of how life is affecting us. We deal with issues together and my son is very open with me, about his life and I know all his mates, they stay here all the time, most know I'm a lesbian and know my partner, if she is here when they visit.

    I hope everyone can read my story and see that the fundamental thing I am stating in this long-winded message is that I am no different than anyone else, and nor is my son, regardless of who our parents are. We have been loved and love the people in our life, and in some ways that makes us better human beings than the bigots who state that we are in some way not right. Christians who should love thy neighbour as themselves, are they doing that, if they are insulting me & my life...?

    I could be your neighbour, I could be your friend, I could be your work colleague... I could be the mother of one of your children's friends... I could be the person who has to lie to keep myself safe from bigots and people who think that I am not ok... But I am just ME 

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