Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Qld: to exclude lesbian co-mothers from birth certificates

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.


  1. Oh Stephen this is so sad. I remember meeting you on that fantastic day in 2010 in Parliament when the laws changed. We were so happy to be part of such momentous change. My partner & I & 2 children have since moved to Melbourne and we watch all this with such grief for the loss of that time. I hope you all can bring Qld back.

  2. This is so sad:(
    So without both mothers being named on the birth certificate what is the best way to ensure parental rights for both mothers?

  3. This is big dam situation and difficult to ensure.

  4. This is disgusting how the politicians can play with peoples lives. We have a right to be a family and have that show on the birth certificate. If they change this and do not regard both mothers as parents then why cant the stay at home mum claim the "sole parents pension"! I know, because its all ok to recognise "same sex families" when it comes to money, just not when it should be our god given right as human beings. We are good families, good people and very good "PARENTS". This is just blatant discrimination after discrimination.

  5. This is unbelievably disappointing. It also goes to show how insecure new and hard fought for entitlements can be even when their is a clear assumption is new provisions such as those added to the Status of Children Act to protect children and their families will be permanent, not political footballs.

  6. Hi Stephen. It seems like the changes to the Status of Children Act with regard to recognition of lesbian co-parents hasn't changed (yet?), and that female co-parents can still be recognised as parents on the birth certificate (ss 19A-G). Am I right, and do you know any more with regard to proposed changes? Thanks.