Northcote Leader – "Gay parents’ parity plea"

LESBIANS across Darebin have made a desperate plea for the legal recognition of non-biological parents .

Their personal stories are included in a Victorian Law Reform Commission submission made to Attorney-General Rob Hulls last month.

Mr Hulls has until June 20 to table the report on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption.

In its draft submissions, the commission recommends that the law be changed to recognise the birth mother’s female partner as a parent of the child. It also recommends same-sex couples have equal access to the technology and be legally entitled to engage surrogate mothers.

Women’s Health in the North deputy chair Susan Rennie said the organisation broadly supported the interim recommendations.

“Law reform will be beneficial to children born in these (same-sex) relationships because it will mean, at least from a legal point of view, that their families will cease to be considered differently to other families in the community,” she said.

Ms Rennie, a lesbian in a relationship with two children, said women did not seek medical help for fear of breaking the laws.

“If a woman thinks she is breaking the law by self-inseminating she might not consult her doctor and may be less inclined to ask a donor to undertake appropriate medical tests,” she said.

Preston couple Felicity and Sarah Marlowe were so concerned by the implication of the law that they started a lobby group, Love Makes a Family, in 2004.

“We started a campaign to mobilise the community around law reform; seeking legal and social recognition of rainbow families,” Felicity said.

They now have 170 members on their email list and have made a formal submission to the commission also broadly supporting the recommendations.

Other locals who made submissions include Northcote couple Vivien Ray and Robin Gregory; parents of a teenage daughter conceived by donor insemination.

“It would make a great difference to us if the non-biological parent could do a second parent adoption,” they said. “It would be such a relief after all these years to be legally recognised.”

Preston’s Sabdha Charlton says her partner Cristina Pink is six months pregnant with their first child. They feel strongly that the law should not differentiate between hetero and homosexual couples.

* Should same-sex couples be given the same legal rights as hetero couples? Write to the editor at http://www.northcoteleader.com.au

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