Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Herald Sun - “Non-birth parents can now be named on birth certificates” by Sally Bennett

LITTLE Drew Hardy-Hughes and her two mothers are now legally recognised as a family in Victoria.

Sweeping January 1 changes to the state's reproductive laws mean that non-birth parents can now be named on birth certificates.

Drew's parents Eilis Hughes and Kristen Hardy, of Werribee, were among the first lesbian couples to act on the landmark legislation.

The birth certificate of their two-year-old daughter, conceived using a known donor, will now list Ms Hughes as the birth mother and Ms Hardy as the other "parent".

"Symbolically it's huge," Ms Hughes said. "It says that we are a family unit and no one can dispute that.

"We had to fight to be visible, and it was also insulting to Kristen, who's done all that hard parenting work, for there to be nothing to say that she is a parent."

Eilis Hughes, Kristen Hary and their daughter Drew

The victory for the gay and lesbian community sparked outrage last year when it was revealed that all couples seeking fertility treatment would be forced to have police checks once the new laws were enacted. The move, designed to ensure that IVF patients are fit to be parents, was condemned as discriminatory and insulting to couples struggling to conceive.

Other changes to the Assisted Reproductive Act included recognition of "social" as well as "medical" infertility, meaning single women, gays and lesbians can access IVF treatment or commission a surrogate.

The new laws also mean children conceived using donors have the right to find out about their biological heritage once they turn 18. Ms Hughes said the Act was in the best interests of children.

"It's better for a child to know if they were donor- conceived and it's better for a child to have both parents named on a birth certificate," she said.

"Previously we needed a court order to say that Kristen has equal legal responsibility."

Victorian Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages spokeswoman Erin Keleher, said the department was delighted it can recognise rainbow families. "It's on the vanguard of social change," she said.

[Source: Original Article]

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