Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Israel Folau committed high level breach of players code of conduct

The ABC is reporting that Israel Folau has been found to have committed a high level breach of the players code of conduct. Punishment is yet to be decided.

I am deeply saddened that a player of his extraordinary abilities thought that in accordance with his religious views, it was OK to say that homosexuals deserved to go to hell. Having been the subject of homophobic abuse and glares, the pain that these comments make is terrible.

For your information Israel Folau, my husband and I celebrated our marriage in the eyes of God. How does that stack up with the idea we too are going to hell?

To be paid lots and lots of money to kick a ball in the public eye brings with it responsibility- including to gay kids who want to play rugby. His words to those who aren't gay give encouragement to bully and torment those who they think are gay.

Some kids will kill themselves because of this torrent of ongoing abuse. Having a player in as senior position as Folau using the weight of his position to attack gays- in the guise of his religious beliefs- is disgusting.

Having known a number of the players of the Brisbane gay rugby team, the Hustlers- they love the game. Rugby is the passion of their life. What would it have said about the game if sports officials could not protect them?

I am glad that rugby league administrators also have said that they don't want Folau back. Good.

Folau has been seen crying over the impact that his words have had- on him. One day I hope he might have the insight as to the impact that his words have had on others. That day seems many years away. When that day comes, he might remember the golden rule of the Bible- which is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That basic rule- of the love of other members of humanity- and the humility that comes from that- seems to have been forgotten by his hatred of those who have a different sexuality to his.

High Court considers: is the gay guy dad, or just the lesbian mum?

The extraordinary tale of Masson and Parsons was heard before the High Court just before Easter- to work out whether Mr Masson is a parent. Judgment has been reserved. It is likely to be some months before we know an outcome.

Trial judge says that Mr Masson is a parent

Mr Masson was in court against the birth mother, the first Ms Parsons, and her wife, the second Ms Parsons. Mr Masson is a gay man who wanted to be a dad. He entered into a co-parenting agreement with the first Ms Parsons. He supplied a quantity of his sperm to Ms Parsons- with the result that following an at home insemination, she conceived and then gave birth to a child.

The trial judge found that Mr Masson was a parent under the Family Law Act due to:

  • his intending to be parent
  • he being genetically the parent
  • his being engaged in parenting of the child.
Both Ms Parsons were not happy with that outcome and appealed.

The Full Court said he is not a parent

The three judges of the Full Court of the Family  Court upheld the appeal. The approach taken by the trial judge to say that Mr Masson was a parent was "constitutional heresy". Because the Family Law Act did not specifically provide for someone like Mr Masson as a parent, then the requirement was to go back to State legislation- in this case the NSW Status of Children Act to determine whether or not Mr Masson was a parent. As the NSW Act did not provide for Mr Masson to be a parent, therefore he was not a parent, irrespective of:

  • his intending to be a parent
  • he being genetically a parent
  • his being engaged in parenting of the child.
Mr Masson appeals to the High Court

Mr Masson was unhappy with that outcome, and appealed. An appeal to the High Court is not as of right, and instead needs leave of the court first. Leave is only granted rarely. Mr Masson obtained special leave from Chief Justice Kiefel in December.

When the matter came before the Full Bench before Easter:

  • Mr Masson, the independent children's lawyer and the Commonwealth argued that the Full Court had got it wrong, and that Mr Masson was a  parent- because the category of who was a parent under that Act was not fixed, and therefore that Act overrode the NSW Act under the Commonwealth Constitution.
  • The two Ms Parsons and the State of Victoria argued that the Full Court got it right, because they said there is a consistent scheme between the Commonwealth, the States and Territories about who is and who is not a parent- and Mr Masson therefore is not a parent.

We wait and see what approach the High Court takes. If the High Court decides that Mr Masson is a parent, then it is likely it will do so on the basis invited by the Commonwealth- namely every case needs to be decided on its own facts about whether someone is or is not a parent.

The three pronged test is commonly used in the US to determine parentage of children conceived through assisted reproductive treatment- the most significant element being whether or not someone intended to be a parent. If they did not intend to be a parent then whether they are genetically a parent does not make them so. By contrast, just because someone is not genetically  parent but intended to be a parent, then they may be found to be a parent.

We are living in the ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

Rainbow Families Qld: Making Rainbow Babies

Rainbow Families Queensland is hosting for the first time Making Rainbow Babies- all wanna be parents want to know about how to conceive and raise children:

  • IVF
  • artificial insemination
  • surrogacy
  • use of egg and sperm donors
  • legal issues
  • listening to children in rainbow families.
I will be a speaker on the day. I am looking forward to it- and looking forward to everyone who turns up.

The event is on 25 May in Brisbane. The details are here or through the Rainbow Families Queensland Facebook page.

I hope you can join me.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Brisbane rally to protest against Brunei's decision to punish LGBT people by death by stoning

This Saturday there will be a rally in Brisbane condemning the actions of the Brunei Government in passing laws to make death by stoning the punishment for those engaging in homosexual acts or adultery.

While Brunei is tiny, with a population of 400,000, it is oil rich. It Sultan is believed to be one of the world's richest men. Members of Brunei's LGBT community are reported to be fleeing Brunei

The UN has condemned the changes as a breach of fundamental human rights. 

Virgin Australia has ended its reciprocal arrangement with Royal Brunei Airlines, just as Royal Brunei Airlines is soon to restart flying into Brisbane.

Celebrities such as Elton John and George Clooney have called for a boycott of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. A hotel ultimately owned by the Sultan of Brunei, is the Royal on the Park, in Alice Street, Brisbane. Like other Brunei owned hotels, it has closed its social media accounts

Brunei joins the list of countries in which the death penalty can be imposed for homosexual acts:

  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Mauritania
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Yemen

The International Academy of Family Lawyers, of which I am a Fellow, has condemned the move by Brunei:

"The International Academy of Family Lawyers  in conjunction with their Asia-Pacific Chapter condemns the introduction of the Brunei revised penal code, which stipulates the death penalty for offences including adultery and extra marital sexual relations and homosexual acts.

The IAFL is an international organisation of over 810 practising lawyers from 57 countries who are recognised by their peers as the most experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries.  

The IAFL reaffirms our support of efforts towards ensuring human dignity within all relationships, full equality of the LGBTI community and in issues concerning marriage, families, parenting and ending domestic violence throughout the world. 

“There is no place in any penal code to criminalise sexual acts between consenting adults and the cruel and inhuman and degrading punishments contained in the Brunei legislation have no place in any modern legal system. This legislation is an affront to international human rights and the IAFL strongly condemns its introduction”. 

The IAFL joins other international voices to urge the Brunei government to revisit this legislation and to remove these penalties from its statute books."

The rally

City Botanic Gardens

Alice Street



Saturday 13 April 2019

I will be a speaker.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Upcoming surrogacy seminars in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane

Surrogacy Seminars Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane

In 2011 in Vegas of all places, I had an extraordinary conversation with a man I had just met.  He was Steve Snyder.  Steve was and is the owner of a surrogacy agency, International Assisted Reproduction Center in Minneapolis, a long time ART attorney and then the chair of the ART Committee of the American Bar Association.  

Steve had just organised the world’s first international surrogacy conference which was held by the American Bar Association Family Law Section, in Vegas.  I was speaking at the conference, about Australian surrogacy law.  

Steve told me in a quiet conversation that there was a proposal from the Hague Permanent Bureau, the body responsible for writing Hague Conventions, of which Australia is a party, about a proposed convention on international surrogacy arrangements.  He then told me a model that was proposed about the convention.  My reaction was to spit chips.  I won’t repeat the words here.  They were simply too rude.  Like most Americans, Steve was amazingly polite and stood there while I ranted.  His mouth was agape.  I then realised on the first substantive meeting with him I had probably greatly insulted him.  Instead he said he appreciated my candour and agreed with me entirely!

I then found myself after a little while in charge of a project by the American Bar Association to put together a policy in dealing with that proposal at The Hague.  Eventually in February 2016 after hundreds or thousands of hours of work with a team of others, but particularly my esteemed co-author Bruce Hale from Boston, that policy became a reality.

Steve is one of the most extraordinary knowledgeable men I have ever met who knows about surrogacy inside and out - and always operates from an ethical framework.  He has probably forgotten more about surrogacy than most people will ever know. 

He has a wealth of knowledge about surrogacy that is unparalleled.  

I am privileged to be joining him and Dr John Hesla to talk about US surrogacy for Australians:

·         in Melbourne on Saturday, 2 March;

·         in Sydney on Sunday, 3 March;

·         in Brisbane on Tuesday, 5 March.

And let me give Dr Hesla a plug.  I had the privilege last year of going to Portland on what I was told was one of the few sunny days of the year, and visited ORM Fertility.  It is an excellent IVF clinic with high standards.  Dr Hesla is a pioneer in his field who has an extraordinary personable nature – what used to be called a doctor’s bedside manner.  He is one of those people who just makes me feel comfortable.  My clients love him and the quality of IVF from his clinic is excellent.

And about me…

My first surrogacy case was in 1988.  I have acted for between 1,500 and 3,000 surrogacy clients since then.  I have also acted for IVF clinics, sperm banks, proposed egg bank, egg, sperm and embryo donors and recipients.  I have also acted for widows who want to use their late husband’s sperm in order for them to become parents.  

My clients have been from every part of Australia from remote parts of every State and also from the capital cities.

I have also acted for clients who have come from 30 other countries ranging from Russia to Brazil, United States, China and Solomon Islands to just give a few.

I have lost count of the number of clients I have acted for from Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria who have undertaken US surrogacy journeys.


There are offences for those who live in some parts of Australia in undertaking egg donation overseas.  These journeys should be taken with particular care.  They apply to people living in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, for example.  

An inadvertent breach of these laws could result in prosecution.  The offences have a maximum jail time of 15 years imprisonment.

It is an offence in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT to engage in commercial surrogacy overseas (including the United States).  The maximum penalty varies from one year’s imprisonment in the ACT to 3 in Queensland.  In New South Wales the penalty is up to $110,000 fine and 2 years’ imprisonment.

No-one has yet been prosecuted, but authorities have been quite clear in saying that the laws remain on the books and can be enforced as a deterrent for people to undergo commercial surrogacy overseas.

It is possible to engage in non-commercial surrogacy in the United States even for people from Queensland, New South Wales or the ACT, if extreme care is taken.  Expert legal advice needs to be obtained so that there isn’t an accidental commission of a very serious offence.

And finally…

I have suffered infertility.  I have two adult sons.  My husband Mitchell and I are currently undertaking a domestic surrogacy journey. 


Now the deets...

The seminars are free.

Melbourne:  Saturday 2nd March
State Library of Victoria 328 Swanston Street 2-3.30pm 

Sydney: Sunday 3rd March 2-3.30pm
Aerial UTS Function Centre, Building 10, Floor 7, 235 Jones Street UTS

Brisbane- Tuesday 5th March 6.30-8pm Blue Room Cinebar, 151 Baroona Road, Rosalie

To register for the seminars RSVP to sludlow@ormfertility.com.

Michael Kirby marries partner Johan van Vloten on 50th anniversary of first meeting

On Monday, Australian gay icon and retired High Court Judge Michael Kirby married his partner of 50 years Johan van Vloten.  Only for the last year have they been able to marry legally in Australia.
I offer them my heartiest congratulations.  Love is love, after all and their love is enduring.
For a history of their relationship, check out this ABC article.  

I learned of their wedding on Monday when I was at court.  I was appearing for a gay couple who were seeking a surrogacy parentage order in their favour.  To my amazement, one of the first things that the judge said (and he addressed my clients) was about the wedding.  His Honour then went on to say that hearing those types of applications was the best part of his job. 

I then mentioned that the child was named after the son and air.  For the first time that I can ever recall in over 30 years of being in a courtroom, the musical Hair was cited.  His Honour noted that one of the first dates undertaken by Michael Kirby and Johan van Vloten was to see Hair in Sydney and that of course one of its songs is “Let the Sun Shine In”.

The magic of that wedding between Michael Kirby and Johan van Vloten extended to that court hearing in Brisbane.  What a joy!

Friday, 8 February 2019

Upcoming surrogacy seminars in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane

I'm proudly taking part in the Independent Parents Advisory Network seminar in Sydney on 23 February. The seminar involves reputable clinics and lawyers talking about surrogacy options in the US, Canada and Australia.

In the words of IPAN:

Join us at the upcoming IPAN seminars in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to learn about Surrogacy, Egg Donation and IVF options in Canada, USA and Australia. If you are considering starting a family and need some help doing so, these events are for you.  Whether you are gay or straight, married, partnered or single, there will be options presented that are available to all.  At each event you will hear the latest information from Lawyers and Surrogacy Professionals.

The seminar is part of a series in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. If you are interested in the seminars, click here.

People who live in NSW must take extreme care in undertaking surrogacy overseas so that they do not commit offences in NSW with egg donation or surrogacy. The offences may still apply even if the egg donation or surrogacy occurred overseas. Anyone living in NSW contemplating egg donation or surrogacy overseas should get expert Australian legal advice first.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Presenting at Better Together 2019

My first presentation of the year will be in Sydney on 12 January at #BetterTogether2019, run by The Equality Project which is a new national organisation bringing together LGBTIQ+ people with allies across the social justice movement, to advocate for a better, more just, and fairer society for all. 
The conference aims to explore current issues facing the LGBTIQ+ movement, bringing together voices from indigenous communities, people with a disability, the deaf community, as well as multicultural and multi-faith communities.  

My presentation will be about surrogacy.  I will be presenting with renowned fertility counsellor and psychologist Miranda Montrone.  Miranda, who is based in Sydney, has been a fertility counsellor for over 30 years.  She is one of the leading surrogacy counselling experts in Australia and has written many pre-signing and post birth surrogacy reports.  A client of mine who with his wife attended upon Miranda for a report, said that Miranda was a credit to her profession.  My client was also a psychologist.

Details for the conference are here.

The conference will be held at UTS