Families and Children
The VGLRL is actively working to ensure discrimination is removed against same-sex parented families, including children born into those families.
The VGLRL is working closely with the Rainbow Families Council to achieve this goal.
The VGLRL believes that the Victorian Government must amend all relevant legislation to provide protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in family formation and in Lesbian, Gay or Transgender headed families. We have supported the Victorian Law Reform Commission's inquiry report into assisted reproductive technology (ART), adoption and parentage (link) and are urging the Victorian Government to implement its recommendations. See here for a copy of our letter of support (link).
The VGLRL believes that at all times the best interests of children must be paramount and central to all policy development and law reform in Victoria relating to rainbow families. In our view, this means:
The best interests of children require certainty about the status of their parents.
Certainty about parental status at the earliest possible time minimises the potential for disputes and litigation about a person's obligations and status in respect of the child, and promotes stability in the child's life.
It is in the best interests of children for their parents to be subject to all of the usual parental obligations and responsibilities.
It is in the public interest for people who become parents to be subject to all of the laws that flow from the parent–child relationship.
It is important for people to appreciate the responsibilities that accompany parenthood, in particular the needs of donor-conceived children, and to plan their arrangements before the child is born.
The law should aim to eliminate discrimination against children and parents based on their family type and relationship status.
Legal recognition of diverse family types is an important way of countering discrimination.
In addition the VGLRL believes that when the rights and best interests of the child remain central to the Infertility Treatment Act and the Adoption Act, a child's right to equality before the law and freedom from discrimination will be protected as will their right to information about their biological heritage.
Assisted reproductive technology
The VGLRL believes that the Victorian Government must ensure the removal of all barriers to ART that are discriminatory.
The VGLRL argues that there should be equality under the law and that legislation regulating access to ART should apply equally to all groups and individuals in Victoria, Specifically the VGLRL calls for:
The elimination of discrimination in the area of access to ART. This will promote the health and wellbeing of children born to single women and people in same sex relationships by allowing more women to access to the benefits and safe guards offered through the licensed clinic system.
The removal of the discriminatory requirement that a woman who undergoes a treatment procedure be 'married and living with her husband on a genuine domestic basis', or 'living with a man in a de facto relationship'. The provision of alternative services such as freezing and screening of known donor sperm.
Parentage and adoption
The VGLRL argues that the following principles must be central to policy development and law reform in Victoria pertaining to parentage and adoption in same-sex, transgender and intersex parented families including:
Recognition that it is in the best interests of children's health and wellbeing that their families are recognised and protected as equal to all other kinds of families.
Same-sex parented families, and families of any structure involving gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex parents, are legitimate structures in which to raise children.
No matter what the circumstances, method, place or date of conception, all children should have the same level of legal recognition and protection of their relationship with their parents/family members.
Family should be a matter of self-definition: that is, people should be able to define for themselves who makes up their family. The law should recognise and protect a diversity of family types, including families of more than two parents.
Women should have control of their fertility, and reproduction should remain as autonomous as possible. The law should not effectively coerce men or women into undergoing unnecessary medical procedures.
The legal status of 'donor' must be clarified regardless of the circumstances, location or date of the donation. This should give consideration to the individual agreements between the adults involved in creating the family and have consideration of the best interests of the child.
The VGLRL believes that the laws that relate to surrogacy should ensure non-discrimination
based on sexual orientation, marital status or family type, and prioritise the rights and wellbeing of children, and provide for certainty about the legal status of social parents. The VGLRL strongly supports altruistic surrogacy as a real option for more Victorian gay men to become parents.