Thanks to the Rainbow Families Council for assistance preparing this document.

On 18 August 2009 the Queensland Premier tabled in Parliament some very positive recommendations affecting rainbow families and prospective parents. In the next six weeks we all need to work together to tell Members of Parliament (MPs) that these changes will have a real impact on children and families, and that Queensanders are ready for this change. To find your MP, check what electorate you are enrolled in at the Australian Electoral Commission. Then check who the sitting member is in your electorate at the Queensland Parliament website.
Here we summarise some key issues, stats and facts that might be useful during your visit. See our Research & Resources page for lots more. You don’t have to cover every issue. The MOST IMPORTANT THING during your is to talk about your personal situation. If you’re a parent, talk about your kids, or better still, take them! Give concrete examples of how the law affects your children and family. If you’re a prospective parent, talk about your stresses about conception and legal relationships with donors, and your future family. If you’re a grandparent, prospective auntie or supportive friend, talk about your family member/friend, what a great parent they are/will be, and why it’s so important to you personally that these laws change. And please ring or email for support, or afterwards so we can keep track, and to let us know how you go!

STATS AND FACTS

  • In 2008, a Galaxy poll found that 67% of Queenslanders supported the legal recognition of same sex parents.
  • Discriminatory laws do not stop people having families. They simply undermine the rights of children living in those families.
  • All Queensland children are not treated equally under current laws, but the current recommendations are a significant step towards equality.
  • The rights and wellbeing of children are the most important consideration, and these recommendations support children’s rights.
  • We are not asking for the “right” to have children – all adults have this right, regardless of sexuality. We want the government to recognise family structures that already exist.
  • Around 20 percent of lesbians and 10 percent of gay men live have children, and a further 20 percent plan to do so. There are at least 4,000 same sex families with children across Australia (2001 census – single lesbian and gay parents not counted)
  • There have always been same-sex parented families. In the past most children were born into previous heterosexual relationships. Now more and more same-sex couples are planning, having and raising children together.
  • In 2006, the Victorian Law Reform Commission reviewed all of the Australian and international research for the past three decades. Its overwhelming conclusion was that children are in no way disadvantaged by being raised by same-sex parents.
  • In 2007, the Australian Psychological Society prepared a literature review of research into same sex headed familes, with the same conclusion.
  • The Commission’s review of research also found that it is quality of parenting that determines outcomes for children, not the number or gender of their parents.
  • The Commission found that the only disadvantage children of same-sex parents face is discriminatory attitudes, which are reinforced by discriminatory laws.

CURRENT LAW IMPACTS ON CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Have a look at these issues and see how you can illustrate them with stories from your own experience, or that of your family member/friend.

Legal Issue: Children born to same-sex parents have no legal relationship with their non-biological parent, nor often with siblings or extended family.

Impacts: Without a Court Order non-biological parents can’t consent to children’s medical treatment or pick them up from childcare, and are not subject to the same parental obligations, e.g. toensure the child attends school, or to pay maintenance if the child no longer lives with them. Lack of legal recognition creates fear and potential instability. Children are not entitled to their non-biological parent’s estate if they die without a will, nor to their superannuation, nor to workplace, accident or crimes compensation.

Solution: Automatic recognition of the non-birth mother through registration of both mothers on the birth certificate. Birth certificates could have “parent/parent”, as an alternative to “mother/father”.
Children born to female same-sex parents before the law changes could have their family recognised by amending their birth certificate.
Children born to gay male parents could be adopted by their non-biological father.

Legal Issue: There is confusion between federal recognition and lack of state recognition

Impacts: Eg/ although federally, same sex headed families are recognised (eg for Medicare and tax purposes), the lack of legal recognition on the birth certificate will make it difficult to enforce some practicalities. If the biological parent dies, there is no automatic assumption that children should stay with their other parent. If the non-biological parent dies, that parent’s family of origin could contest the will as the “legal next of kin”. Although a same sex parent is supposed to be unable to remove a child from the country without the co-parent’s permission, as the co-parent is not listed on the birth certificate there is no way they could stop this.

Non-biological parents cannot act on their children’s behalf, e.g. to make a complaint about discrimination or family violence, and have no right to be consulted on proceedings
about their children’s care or welfare.

Solution: Law should be amended to recognise children can have two parents of the same sex.

Legal issue: The legal status of known sperm donors is uncertain, whether conception occured at home or through a clinic procedure.

Impacts: Legal uncertainty creates fear and potential family instability, e.g. that donors may be pursued by Centrelink for maintenance, or that donors may decide to pursue and be granted additional contact through the Family Court.

Solution: Clarification that a donor is legally not a parent, whether conception occurred at home or through a clinic. Same-sex parents presumed to be the main family unit.

Legal issue: Altruistic surrogacy is illegal

Impacts: Those wishing to access surrogacy must go interstate oroverseas. Alternatively, gay men “pretend’ they are in a relationship with the surrogate, and then “break up” immediately after the birth of the child. Parentage of children conceived through surrogacyis a legal tangle, depending on where they are conceived and born.

Solution: Altruistic surrogacy should be available in Queensland. Sexual orientation should not be a determining factor in who is able to access this. A non-biological father whose child is conceived via overseas surrogacy should be considered a legal parent.

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One Response to “What to talk about with your MP”


  1. […] Step 4: Think about what you might say. Haven’t visited an MP before? here’s a guide to what to expect. Check out the research into same sex parenting. Have a look at the common concerns about rainbow parenting.  Get clear on how the current lack of recognition affects you (or the person you are supporting, if you are a family member/friend) – there are some ideas here. […]

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