TASMANIAN GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS GROUP

Media Release
Wednesday April 6th 2011

PUNISHED FOR BEING GAY: TAS LIBS TO MAKE SAME-SEX COUPLES CRIMINALS

Tasmanian gay activists are furious the State Liberals want same-sex surrogacy to remain a crime, despite the decriminalisation of surrogacy for heterosexual married and de facto couples, and singles.

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said the move will encourage prejudice and deepen stigma against same-sex couples and their children.

“The Tasmanian Liberals are making criminals of gay people for doing what the Liberals are happy for everyone else to do”, Mr Croome said.

“This is a profoundly bigoted position which is at odds with the acceptance of same-sex relationships and families in Tasmanian society.”

“The move is completely out of line with principles of non-discrimination in Tasmanian relationship law, and surrogacy law in the majority of other states – principles which a majority of the State Liberals have previously supported (see timeline below).”

“The only possible reason for allowing single surrogacy but not same-sex surrogacy is pure and unadulterated, homophobic prejudice.”
Mr Croome said the Liberals’ insult to same-sex couples is heightened by the strict pre-conditions they are seeking to impose on surrogacy arrangements including lower age limits, written agreements, and a three year cohabitation requirement as prove of relationship stability and suitability to parent.

“The Liberals are effectively saying that under no conditions, however strict, can a gay or lesbian person make a good parent.”

“The people who will suffer from the the Liberal’s prejudice are the children being raised by same-sex couples because their families are effectively being labelled ‘second-rate’.”

“Will Hodgman has shown himself to be a weak and unprincipled leader who has betrayed those Tasmanians who believed he was steering his Party towards greater tolerance and the political centre.

Debate began yesterday on a proposed State Government law decriminalising altruistic surrogacy for opposite and same-sex couples, and singles.

The Liberals proposed a series of amendments restricting access to legal surrogacy including an amendment excluding same-sex couples altogether.

The Government Bill has majority support in the Lower House and is expected to pass tomorrow, but levels of support in the Upper House are uncertain.

In 2008 a Tasmanian Upper House inquiry into legalising altruistic surrogacy recommended that there be no discrimination against same-sex couples.

Other states which recognise atruistic surrogacy arrangements involving same-sex couples include Victoria, Queensland, NSW and the ACT.

The Tasmanian Liberals have previously had a conscience vote on matters related to same-sex relationships.

Here is a timeline:

2003: a majority of Liberals supported the equal recognition of same-sex couples in all Tasmanian laws, including in known-child adoption.
2003: a majority supported the establishment of Australia’s first civil partnership scheme.
2009: a majority of Liberals supported the legal recognition of co-mothers of children born through fertility treatments like IVF.
2010: a majority supported the legal acknowledgment of overseas same-sex marriages in Tasmanian law
2011: the Liberal Party moves to retain criminal sanctions against same-sex surrogacy while removing these sanctions against heterosexual couples and singles

TASMANIAN GAY AND LESBIAN RIGHTS GROUP

Media Statement
Wednesday April 6th 2011

CHRISTIAN LOBBY / STATE LIBERALS OPPOSE BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN “HOMOPHOBIA” TAG DEFENDED

Tasmanian gay activists say the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and the State Liberal Party are putting outdated prejudices ahead of the best interests of children by proposing the continued criminalisation of same-sex surrogacy.

Responding to claims by the ACL that it is in the best interests of children to have a father and a mother, Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said love makes a family, not gender.

“The overwhelming conclusion of parenting studies around the world is that it is in the best interests of children to have parents who love them, regardless of the gender of those parents”, Mr Croome said.

“By proposing to keep same-sex surrogacy illegal, the Australian Christian Lobby and the State Liberal Party are putting outdated prejudice ahead of the best interests of the children raised by same-sex partners.”

The State Liberal Party has proposed an amendment to the State Government’s surrogacy bill that will allow heterosexual married and de facto couples, and singles, to legally enter surrogacy arrangements but criminalise same-sex couples if they do the same.

Mr Croome hit back at claims by the ACL that it is unfair to describe the State Liberals’ proposal as “homophobic”.

“Making something a crime only if gay people do it is about as homophobic as it gets”, Mr Croome said.