Same sex couples in South Australia have equal access to IVF and legal surrogacy

Same sex couples now have equal access to assisted reproductive technology and unpaid surrogacy in South Australia.

The Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill, which came into effect last night, passed less than a month ago as part of a suite of reforms for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) South Australians. These reforms followed equal adoption laws which came into effect earlier this year.

Lee Carnie, Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre said, “Lesbian couples can now start a family using IVF in every state and territory in Australia except the NT. Same sex couples can also have children using unpaid surrogacy across Australia except for in the NT, WA and Queensland.”

“In late 2016, Premier Jay Weatherill apologised for laws that treated LGBTIQ relationships and families differently. From now on, all couples face equal treatment under South Australian legislation regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Lee Carnie.

However, federal marriage laws continue to have an impact on LGBTIQ South Australians who cannot legally be married or have their overseas marriages officially recognised in Australia.

Andrew Birtwistle-Smith, Chair of the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance, said, “I legally married my wonderful husband Christopher in Canada 12 years ago, but when he died 18 months ago Australia still did not recognise our marriage. Our South Australian politicians are doing what they can, but they don’t have the power to change the federal Marriage Act. We call on our federal politicians to do their job and vote on marriage equality.”

These laws come into effect the same day as Queensland passed a bill repealing the gay panic defence - a legal loophole allowing murder charges to be downgraded to manslaughter. South Australia is now the only state or territory in Australia which still has the gay panic defence. The South Australian Government is looking into whether to repeal this defence.