The Queensland government has announced that it plans to change surrogacy law to prevent single people, gay couples and straight couples who have lived together for less than two years from undergoing surrogacy. Existing altruistic surrogacy legislation was only passed in February 2010, de-criminalising altruistic surrogacy although commercial surrogacy remains a crime.
The Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said shortly before his election in March that his party would not make any changes to surrogacy law. He has subsequently said this was a mistake and that they intend to change the law and restrict surrogacy to longstanding heterosexual couples only. These proposed changes will effectively criminalise altruistic surrogacy arrangements for single people, gay couples and heterosexual couples who have lived together for less than two years and they will face a prison sentence of up to three years if they have a child through surrogacy.
These proposed changes represent a significant government u-turn and a worrying step backwards in terms of the rights of single people and gay and straight couples to access surrogacy. These proposed changes will create additional worry and heartache for many prospective parents, who will either seek to keep ‘below the radar’ with their family building plans or move to a state with less restrictive and discriminatory laws. Interest in surrogacy continues to grow around the world. Growing numbers of intended parents are already crossing borders to access surrogacy in the face of restrictive laws at home and these numbers look set to increase in light of these proposed changes to the law in Queensland.