Last month, Queensland’s parliament decriminalised altruistic surrogacy. The reforms will allow same-sex couples to adopt children born to surrogate mothers. The laws passed 48 votes to 40 (two Labor MPs crossed the floor on the issue).
Liberal National Party (LNP) members used the debate in parliament to display their usual homophobic bigotry. One claimed that the new surrogacy bill represented, “a Trojan horse for the normalisation of same-sex parenting” and would reduce, “children to the status of pets”.
Labor premier, Anna Bligh, allowed Labor parliamentarians a rare conscience vote on the issue.
Under the reforms legal parentage of a child born in surrogacy agreements will transfer from the birth mother to the parent or parents who commissioned the birth. In an add-on to the law, lesbian co-parents will also be listed as equal parents on their child’s birth certificate. Commercial surrogacy remains illegal.
The laws were praised by the GLBTI community. But the vote has exposed Bligh’s hypocrisy on the decriminalisation of abortion. Labor’s surrogacy bill comes at a time when a woman and her partner await a trial date in Cairns on charges of procuring an abortion. While Anna Bligh allowed Labor members a conscience vote on surrogacy, she has refused to allow such a vote on abortion law reform.
Bligh and other Labor MPs mocked the LNP’s regressive position on gay adoption stating, “the LNP sure has their fair share of rednecks and they have been on display in the most embarrassing way possible…” The Labor leader went on to label her opponents “knuckle draggers” and “bigots.”
But it’s Bligh who is encouraging the rednecks on abortion.
Bligh attacked the LNP opposition, saying, “The time for putting our heads in the sand on this issue is over.” Yet, the Labor leader’s head is firmly in the sand on the abortion issue.
Despite opinion polls showing 64 per cent of people favour abortion law reform, she refuses to allow a conscience vote on abortion.
The surrogacy reform bill is a positive step for gay rights. Women in Queensland have waited too long already—a vote to remove abortion from the criminal code is needed now.
By Susan Shaw