Last week the Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie announced in debate on the changes to the Civil Partnership Law:
“What we are also going to deal with is the other issue that that bill dealt with and that is parentage presumptions and parentage orders. Honourable members will recall at the time that the member for Southern Downs supported two lesbian women, who had a natural birth, both having parentage orders. I make it absolutely clear that going forward the government will be amending the provisions around altruistic surrogacy and the Surrogacy Act to repeal the provisions with respect to same-sex couples, de factos of less than two years and singles. That is the policy position we took years ago when we debated the Surrogacy Act.”
What the Attorney General was saying in effect was that the amendments to the Status of Children Act 1978 (Qld) contained in the Surrogacy Act 2010 (Qld) and the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld) was that lesbian co-mothers will no longer be recognised on birth certificates.
This recognition was brought about by virtue of the Surrogacy Act 2010 (Qld) and has resulted in a number of lesbian co-mothers being recognised on birth certificates as “parent”. The legislation to allow this has been consistent with other States such as New South Wales. It is not known if the Government proposal is that women who are now recognised on birth certificates as “parents” by virtue of being a lesbian co-mother will be removed from the birth certificate or whether it is only to apply in the future.
The proposed change will mean that co-mothers will not be recognised in a moment of joy namely at the time of the birth certificate as a “parent” but will be recognised as in a moment of pain if and when their relationships break down because the effect of their actions under the Family Law Act will be that they are “parents”.
Even worse for a lesbian mother seeking child support, although the Family Law Act specifies that the co-mother would be a “parent”, internal procedures with the Child Support Agency are not always so clear cut and I have been advised of difficulties in establishing “parentage” in dealing with the agency. The planned move will in my view make it more expensive and tie up tax payers resources in the Federal Magistrate’s Court unnecessarily as to argument as to whether or not the co-mother was a parent, a step that is easily avoided by having her named on the birth certificate.
I will be speaking at a forum tonight at the Sportsman’s Hotel, Leichhardt Street, Spring Hill at 6.30pm on this point.