Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill 2016
December 1, 2016
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (12:21): I rise on behalf of the Greens to speak to the government's Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill 2016. I will be brief but I do want to say that I am extremely proud to support this legislation. Many same-sex couples have contacted me with regard to their access to surrogacy and I will now be able to give them a clear and concise answer. It is indeed a desired piece of law from the government for both the fairness it places on the sector and the welcoming hand it extends to all members of our community. I must reiterate that this bill, rather than creating any special rights for the rainbow or queer community, simply creates full equality for them in the law. I commend the provision that makes it a requirement of registration to prohibit assisted reproductive technology (ART) providers from discriminating in providing their services based on sexual orientation, gender identity or other factors. The fact that it has been possible for people to be the gatekeepers based on these categories for so long, whether or not that power was taken advantage of, is inexplicably wrong. I note that the Premier will be apologising in the other place today as will the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Dunstan. It is a momentous occasion.
We do not always get it right. We do have a history and, while we were not part of creating it, we can certainly work to make amends for it in many ways. I welcome those words that will come from the other place today. Likewise, I welcome the resounding wisdom present in the provision that the access requirements for ART simply be that, in their given circumstances, a person is unlikely to become pregnant. This removes the invasive and ostracising requirement of having to be what was termed medically or socially infertile—outdated and unnecessary hurdles to jump—and will provide equality in access.
The amending of the Equal Opportunity Act and the Family Relationships Act to bring their protections and procedures in line with what, after today, I hope to be able to proudly say is South Australia's new culture of equality will allow people in all forms of relationship to pursue this path, if they wish. Surrogacy is of course still a complex and emotional path to pursue. I hope that, on top of this reform, we do extend our hands of support to all South Australians wishing to have a family in this way.
Two particular potential families—indeed, couples—who are known to me, among many others who wish to pursue this path, have allowed me to share their stories. I will not use their names because I think their stories actually reflect many in the community who would like to see these reforms pass through this parliament. The first couple, as I say, are known to me. They state:
My long term partner and I recently got married in Hawaii with 50 family and friends attending the wedding from all over the world.. Being able to share our commitment to one another in front of our family and friends for us was the happiest day of our lives. A year on our next life goal is to start a loving family. We have always loved kids and feel that we have a lot to give however the laws in our own country make it difficult to know where to begin and as two guys from very long standing and proud families adoption is really not for us, we have the option of a family egg donor but the legal complications and surrogacy limitations [are] a minefield [and] the only option seems to be in other countries where we have little to no protection from the law.
They would love to see South Australia step up for them, to ensure that they can pursue what I think many people would take for granted, which is starting a family and continuing their family traditions.
Another couple has let me use the words of their experience, and that story is: My partner and I have been together for over 5 years and are very keen to have children through surrogacy. We have a small farm in the Adelaide Hills, along with a few horses and, of course, dogs. I work full time for the Government and my partner is in the services industry. We are engaged, however legislation currently prevents us from marrying, and have supportive and loving family and friends. We are two stable, caring men…with a wonderful life. Surrogacy is our first preference for building a family. I have always had a strong desire to have children who are genetically related to me, and both my partner and I would love to bring up a child from infancy and provide them
with a rich life. We also have a close friend of ours, who has a child of her own, and who wants to support us in building our family by carrying our child. All three of those people involved in that particular potential surrogate family are well known to me, and I know that they will provide a wonderful life for whichever children they are lucky enough to have. They continue:
We are ready physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and financially, and know it is time for South Australian legislation to change and enable us to take the next step in our lives. We would appreciate your support… Certainly, the Greens stand here today in this parliament and say we will support you. We will support you to have those families. I share some of the frustrations of the previous speaker, the Hon. John Dawkins, and I do understand his frustrations with the way that, when one brings private member's legislation in particular to this place and seeks to serve a constituency, that can be thwarted. The processes can be difficult—unsupported by the bureaucracy and often unsupported by the time frames—and the debates on conscience votes are sometimes quite arduous. I share those frustrations, but I will not be seeing constituents yet again having to bear the brunt of those frustrations. I urge all members of parliament to do the job we are here to do, to take this legislation and debate it as best we can and in a timely way. If we are frustrated with the government's handling of the process, we should not see that burden being borne by the constituents who I hope to see treated better after this particular parliamentary process.
People in the LGBTI community have suffered stigma and discrimination. We know the rates of suicide, and that awful case, just in these past two weeks, of the young boy in Queensland who was bullied to death in a school because we do not have acceptance. A parliament today can show that we as leaders do accept those young children in our schools who are currently being bullied, that we will say 'no more' and that we will support these families in all their forms because they are us. In fact, I wish there were more of us here today because we might not see these debates stymied for so long. With those few words, I support the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.M.A. Lensink.