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Friday, April 17, 2015

Family Court chief seeks surrogacy law change

Australia should urgently legalise commercial surrogacy, says the Family Court’s Chief Justice, Diana Bryant.

Justice Bryant will be the keynote speaker this week at a lecture and discussion hosted by The University of Queensland’s TC Beirne School of Law and the Australian Association of Women Judges.

Justice Bryant said laws should be standardised across the states and territories to avoid complex court cases and to end uncertainty for surrogate babies, mothers and contracting parents.

“The law must keep up with scientific and societal changes,” Justice Bryant said.

“Commercial surrogacy is not legal in Australia, but some fear this is driving people overseas to do it.

“Parents who return to Australia with a surrogate baby – especially those who have made surrogacy arrangements in breach of the law in their state of residence – face complications in the Family Court system.

“This causes great stress for all concerned.”

Justice Bryant said the legal issues surrounding surrogacy reflected the fast-evolving nature of family law, particularly concerning reproductive rights.

Contracting parents and governments were ignoring a child’s right to know its biological parents, in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Justice Bryant said the “Baby Gammy” case in Thailand last year brought surrogacy to public prominence, highlighting the lack of protection for overseas surrogate mothers, the grey areas around unwanted children and the current lack of checks on the suitability of contracting parents.

Justice Bryant’s lecture will examine current laws and discuss models for legal change.

Panellists at the event will be Justice Roslyn Atkinson AO; Chief Judge John Pascoe AO CVO, Federal Circuit Court of Australia; Professor Andreas Schloenhardt from the TC Beirne School of Law and Stephen Page, Partner at Harrington Family Lawyers.

The event will be at the Banco Court, Supreme Court, Brisbane, from 5.30pm this Friday (17 April).


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