WA’s proposed surrogacy laws may be discriminatory to women

Introduction of Western Australia’s new surrogacy laws may have been dealt another blow with legal advice suggesting the proposed legislation could be discriminatory towards women.

Health Minister Roger Cook (pictured) has argued that the current laws need to be changed because they are discriminatory towards male same-sex couples and single men. Cook has argued that the laws need to be changed so that these groups have access to the same services that single women and helterosexual couples have enjoed since 2009.

The Australian has reported that legal advice sent to a parliamentary committee looking into the legislation has suggested that while the laws would remove the discrimination faced by gay couple and single men, discrimination faced by women in a same-sex relationship would remain.

Leading barrister Greg McIntyre SC reportedly wrote in his report that because the proposed legislation retains a requirement for women to have a “medical reason” to access surrogacy they could be ruled as discriminatory.

Additionally the committee’s final report notes that while the current legislation is discriminatory, it is not unlawful discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act.

The legislation was sent to be reviewed by a parliamentary committee after Liberal MP Nick Goiran delivered a 24 hour long filibuster speech that prevented any other members of parliament from speaking on the subject.

Parliamentarians across the political divide have been given a conscience vote on the issue, Goiran has expressed that he is opposed to all forms of surrogacy.

Presenting the report to parliament this week Larnor’s Dr Sally Talbot said further investigation has determined that while the current legislation is discriminatory towards single men and gay men, it was also probably not unlawful.

“Advice provided to the committee indicates that the current prohibition on male couples and single men accessing IVF procedures is inconsistent with the commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act. Conversely, although the Surrogacy Act is discriminatory against male couples and single men, the evidence indicates that the discrimination is unlikely to be unlawful and therefore not strictly inconsistent with the SDA. Nevertheless, the committee considers that if male couples and single men have access to IVF for the purpose of surrogacy, it is necessary also to address the discrimination present in the Surrogacy Act.” Dr Talbot said.

Dr Talbot also highlighted the legal advice arguing that the proposed new legislation would see women in same-sex relationships being discriminated.

Goiran told parliament that the McGowan government had produced a “shambolic” piece of legislation, accusing the government of trying to implement the legislation under a veil of secrecy.

The Liberal MP said the committees report shows that if the legislation had proceeded it would have lead High Court challenges because of it’s discrimination.

“Had I not been the lead speaker on the Human Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, we would have women lining up at the registry of the High Court.” Goiran said.

The committee received a wide range of public submissions from both organisations and individuals with a mix of support for the legislation. Many of the letters in opposition to the legislation being changed stated religious and ethical beliefs as their motivation for opposition.

OIP Staff




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