Last week I was asked to present to Qld Rainbow Labor, the LGBTI group in Queensland of the ALP, about surrogacy and adoption, as well as other family law issues, and discrimination against LGBTI people.
Rainbow Labor asked me to speak as an expert in the area. I am not a member of the ALP, nor of any other political party.
The presentation went well. The challenges I identified, aside from the obvious challenges that exist with too few children and too much red tape with adoption, and the minefields that intended parents must endure to access surrogacy were:
- The Marriage Act does not allow same sex marriage. All other Commonwealth discrimination was removed, at first by the Howard government, and then extensively by the Rudd government.
- In Queensland there is a differential age of consent. In the news recently were two Labor icons- Neville Wran, who died, and Wayne Swan, who was being operated on for a brain tumour. When Neville Wran decriminalised homosexuality, he did so in the 70's, making the age of consent for anal sex in NSW at 18 years. Wayne Swan copied him in Queensland in 1990, a generation ago. Queensland remains the only State where there is this differential age of consent. For all acts other than anal sex, the age of consent is 16 years, but for anal sex it is 18 years. It is about time that they were the same.
- When Peter Beattie removed discrimination under Queensland laws against gay and lesbians in 1993, there remained two exceptions- neither of which appears to have any rhyme nor reason: gay and lesbian teachers can still be discriminated against in Church schools; and gay and lesbian people (and singles) cannot adopt in Queensland (discrimination that was continued by the Adoption Act enacted by Anna Bligh in 2009).
- The Queensland Government has announced a review of the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act- which appears to be a removal of the requirement that trans people have to be single to have their birth register changed- a long overdue reform.