The Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced last week to the parliament a debate on the changes to the Civil Partnership laws that Queensland would be changing its surrogacy laws along the lines of those previously proposed by then Opposition Justice spokesman now Health Minister Lawrence Springwood. The Attorney stated:
“The second issue is surrogacy. In this debate and in the correspondence that the government received with regard to this debate there was much talk about mixing these issues with surrogacy. I can also advise the House tonight that the government will be changing the surrogacy laws in the future. We will be introducing amendments similar to those introduced by the honourable member for Southern Downs when he was the shadow minister. We will be repealing the provisions in the Surrogacy Act that deal with same-sex couples, de factos of less than two years and singles. That was a clear commitment given many years ago when that original debate took place. The government will proceed to amend the Surrogacy Act.”
So that it is clear, what Mr Springborg proposed, aside from being in breach of Australia’s fundamental rights obligations including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and aside from being apparently in conflict with (and therefore invalid) so far as it is in conflict with the Federal Sex Discrimination Act, is intended to criminalise same sex couples, singles and those living in heterosexual de facto relationships of under two years who seek to pursue surrogacy. Mr Springborg’s Bill provided that only those people who have entered into an eligible surrogacy arrangement could proceed and that those who entered into a surrogacy arrangement that wasn’t an eligible surrogacy arrangement committed an offence punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment. Eligibility was defined as the intended parents either being married or in a heterosexual de facto relationship of not less than 2 years.
If the changes become law, then the likely outcome is that some couples will continue to defy the law and undertake traditional surrogacy irrespective of the changes and others will simply move interstate where there are not discriminatory laws.
It is not known whether those who have undertaken surrogacy but don’t fit the anticipated guidelines as to whether they will now be punished or whether their children will still be eligible for parentage orders.
Tonight I will be speaking at a forum at 6.30pm at The Sportsman’s Hotel, Leichardt Street, Spring Hill about this very issue.