Sunday, 30 March 2014

So you want to make a baby: change of venue

Due to demand, as we are currently expecting 70 attendees, the venue for So You Want to Make a Baby has changed to:

52 Merthyr Rd
New Farm

The seminar is not now being held at the Qld Aids Council at Newstead.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

So you want to make a baby seminar filling fast

My seminar on 12 April, So You Want to Make a Baby is filling fast. Almost 3 weeks out and over 50 people will be attending so far. If you want to come, make sure that you get tickets now as you might miss out.

The seminar is designed for LGBTI intended parents, donors and surrogates. The other speakers will be renowned fertility counsellor Michael Condon and Queensland Fertility Group founder and fertility specialist Dr Warren DeAmbrosis.

Tickets are free, but I am asking everyone to donate to the LGBTI Legal Service, which is co-hosting the seminar. The LGBTI Legal Service, which provides legal advice to Queensland's LGBTI community is completely unfunded, aside from inkind support from the Qld Aids Council. I have been a volunteer with the LGBTI Legal Service since its inception.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Family Court worried about child trafficking in surrogacy cases: judge

A judge has recently said that the Family Court is concerned about child trafficking in surrogacy cases and that science is far ahead of what lawmakers seem to be contemplating. Justice Cronin of the Family Court did so in a case where  the intended parents sought parenting orders from the court, and where his Honour found that the child "was in very good hands".

The case, known as Fisher-Oakley and Kittur, involved a gay Australian expatriate couple who went to India for surrogacy. They were successful in obtaining orders from the court.

Justice Cronin declined to order the appointment of an independent children's lawyer, and decided the matter on the first day in court- which would have led to a substantial costs savings for the couple involved.

His Honour made some pithy observations about commercial surrogacy:

This is an area where the Court has some disquiet. It is well known in the community that there are babies brought to various places around the world in international baby selling and trafficking. It is also said – and I think I can take judicial notice of this from some of the literature that I have read – those sorts of criminal elements involve the trafficker declaring themselves as the biological parent of a child and having the birth mother refuting or rejecting any involvement in the child’s life. It may not be prevalent in Australia, but it is known in other parts of the world.

A second reason why this Court needs to be cautious and scrutinise these arrangements carefully is the philosophical argument that children who are born to women under these circumstances can be seen to be either abandoned by their birth mothers or indeed crassly sold by their birth mothers. The Court is rarely given any information about the circumstances under which the child might otherwise live if it did not move from the birth mother to people such as the present applicants.

I know nothing about the financial circumstances that the mother in this particular case may have had arising out of this contractual arrangement. I do not know whether S Agency is an organisation profiting from the poverty and the problems that women in countries such as India and Thailand might face. That is not in any way to suggest that the applicants are anything other than responsible and very dedicated parents for the child. I stress again that the Court is raising these issues because it is concerned that it needs to be satisfied that this child is not caught in that web of horror and intrigue....

 I draw little comfort in this particular case from the fact that the respondents have not participated. They clearly entered into a contractual arrangement and, reading the contractual arrangement, it is quite clear that they were to walk away and have nothing further to do with either the applicants or the child.Whatever things people say about the future and their intentions, one has to be somewhat cynical about just how those things will unfold for a child born into this commercial arrangement.

 This is a new area for the law in an environment where science is far ahead of what lawmakers seem to be contemplating. I have no idea what this child will face in 15 years time if cultural issues arise or his issues about identity become a crisis. I have no idea what would happen in the event that the birth mother suddenly changed her mind and wanted to have some involvement in the child’s future.All of those questions remain unanswered. The Australian Government has not been concerned about the child’s travel movements because it presumably accepted the documents of the child’s birth and parentage at face value.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Another trainwreck: a known donor deal gone wrong

The statutory rights of a child trump any donor agreements entered into before her birth, according to a recent judgment. 

Judge Small took this approach in a recent case between a gay sperm donor and a lesbian couple who wanted to have a child. The parties ended up in the Federal Circuit Court arguing about whether the donor should have equal parental responsibility, with the lesbian couple, for the child, and as to the amount of time that the child should spend with him. The case is a clear illustration of the danger for all concerned when a known donor arrangement goes sour.

Even though the donor was not a “parent” as a matter of law, and therefore not liable to pay child support, the parties had agreed that he would pay the equivalent to child support that he might have had to pay if he were a parent.

Her Honour decided that the lesbian couple, who were the primary attachment figures for the child, should have sole parental responsibility, in part because they needed support for their parenting, and the court’s imprimatur.

The donor, who had been an old friend of one of the women,  initially sought that the child, known as X, live on a week about basis, then changed that to a split of 9 days a fortnight with the couple, and 5 days a fortnight with him. The couple were vague about the amount of time X should spend with the donor, who was “committed to being X’s father”, other than day time contact.

Her Honour ruled that the child spend a graduated amount of time with the donor, to occur weekly, including one weekend a month, and 2 weeks holiday time a year.

Friday, 14 March 2014

So you want to make a baby- problem solved!

It turns out that the So you want to make a baby seminar on 12 April in Brisbane is not at capacity. It was a ticketing issue- now fixed.

To the 90+ people who enquired yesterday, trying to get tickets, I'm truly sorry. The tickets are still available, and there are plenty of seats.

Tickets can be obtained here:

A happy problem: an update for the So You Want to Make a Baby Seminar

ALERT: The venue for the seminar is likely to change

On 12 April I will be speaking at a seminar in Brisbane for how LGBTI people can become parents. The seminar is run with the assistance of the Queensland Aids Council and the LGBTI Legal Service.

Yesterday afternoon, still a month out, I was alerted that somehow all 100 tickets for the venue have been taken. The venue is full!

Don't despair. I am told that there are still many who want to come. I don't want them to miss out. We are organising, fingers crossed, another venue- and will advise as soon as it is known.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

US judge overturns Texas gay marriage ban, and writes a few pearls of wisdom

Sometimes it is possible to read pearls of wisdom in a judgment, that go beyond the mere dispute that is before the court. This much was clear in a recent case in Texas when US District Court Judge Orlando Garcia found that the Texas laws that said that gay marriage was banned were unconstitutional, and were struck down. The judge however stayed his order pending an appeal. Here are those pearls of wisdom:

Texas' current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason.

The Court agrees that throughout history, many federal and state laws have categorically discriminated against homosexuals

Sexual orientation is so fundamental to a person's identity that one ought not be forced to choose between one's sexual orientation and one's rights as an individual - even if one could make a choice.

The scientific consensus is that sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic.

The history of same-sex marriage bans across the country illustrates the historical lack of political power possessed by gays and lesbians.

Homosexual couples are as capable as other couples of raising well adjusted children.

Procreation is not and has never been a qualification for marriage.

Same-sex marriage does not make it more or less likely that heterosexuals will marry and engage in activities that lead to procreation.

Same-sex couples, although unable to "naturally procreate", can and do have children.

The only purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite sex married couples is the same improper impose inequality and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.

Tradition alone cannot form a rational basis for a law.

Keeping history and tradition intact is not a justification for infringement of an individual's rights.

Equal protection is at the heart of our legal system and is essential for the existence of a free society.

101 gay rights activists to follow

Today I received an email from Joseph Atkins, the blogger behind about how he had written an article about 101 gay rights activists to follow.

This little black duck, as Daffy used to say, was highly sceptical about the email, thinking- oh yeah, more spam. However, I am glad to say that I was wrong. Thank you Joseph for putting the list together.

It is an extraordinary list, although only one  Aussie on it, with extraordinary people changing the world to be a world in which all people are treated equally.

I am so glad that Joseph emailed me his list. :)

People on the list include:
  • Paul McGannon: A software developer living in Australia who is trying to be more Tao. He is a supporter of gay rights along with his many other nerdy hobbies.
  • Prakash Thapa: A straight guy for gay rights, who is an android devices enthusiast, originally from Nepal, currently residing in New Hampshire.
  • Mark Joseph Walmsley:  A PhD student at the University of Leeds interested in the black freedom struggle and gay liberation in the United States.
  • Diana van Laar: A community organiser, motivator, and a promoter, and happens to be owner of oldest gay-friendly bar in Holland. She was once a former film-producer and likes to talk about issues that she feels matters including many political issues.
  • Rishu Kapoor: An activist trying to gain support for same-sex partnerships in India. He wants to see India join the growing number of EU member states that have legalized same-sex partnerships.
  • Ruth Baldacchino: A committee member of the Malta Gay Rights Movement. She is also an executive board member for the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
  • Jethro Patalinghug: An LGBT rights advocate who represented his community as Mr. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance 2012. He founded Take the Test, a campaign which promotes HIV testing and counselling in the Philippines. He is also a filmmaker/video producer who believes in the power of media to effect progressive changes.