The LNP government plans to stop single people, same-sex couples and couples who have lived together for less than two years from having a child through surrogacy.Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he supports changes to prevent single people and same-sex couples from having a baby through use of a surrogate, but won’t say why.
In an interview with brisbanetimes南京夜网.au to mark 100 days in office, Mr Newman also defended the watering down of civil union legislation, saying his compromise was a “far more middle-road, considered outcome” than some in the Christian right thought the government would take.
Rights activists have reacted angrily to several decisions made by the Newman government in its first few months in office, including the de-funding of LGBT health group Healthy Communities and the removal of state-sanctioned ceremonies from civil partnerships, which have been renamed as registered relationships.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has also flagged legislative changes to ban singles, de facto couples of less than two years and same-sex couples from accessing altruistic surrogacy, where a woman agrees to carry a child for no payment.
This is despite Mr Newman saying before the election no changes would be made to surrogacy laws.Watch Premier Campbell Newman’s full interview here.
Asked what message the various changes sent to the LGBT community about the value the government placed on their relationships, Mr Newman focused on each decision in isolation.
He argued the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities had not shown “demonstrable improvements” in HIV/AIDS infection rates and had become an advocacy group, so HIV/AIDS prevention would be funded in a different way.
“In relation to civil unions we said very, very clearly before the election that we’d repeal the legislation as long as we didn’t leave people in legal limbo,” he said.
“I think that what we’ve achieved is a very fair and reasonable outcome and what I point to is that people at the extremes of both sides are making all sorts of wild claims.
“There are still people in the Christian lobby groups who are saying it should have been repealed; you have people at the fringes of the gay advocacy groups who are saying you’ve taken away something. I dispute both points of view.
“I think gay and lesbian people have been given security, peace of mind that these relationships can be registered and maintained in Queensland. If someone wants to have a ceremony with their friends and family they can.”
Mr Newman said he had argued “passionately” against the “unacceptable” motion by Katter’s Australian Party to revoke existing civil unions from couples who had already entered into them.
Some in the LGBT community have argued they have been hurt by the removal of state-sanctioned ceremonies and renaming of civil partnerships to registered relationships, a name they say sounds more clinical and akin to registering pets.
But Mr Newman, who has previously voiced his personal support for gay marriage, said people should look at the LNP’s pre-election comments.
He insisted nobody who was interested in the matter could say they did not know changes would be made to civil unions.
“Arguably we’ve done less than what we said we were going to do,” he said.
“We’re a democratic country, we’re a democratic state; we went to the election saying things that have been thoroughly documented and we actually have done something that is [a] far more middle road, considered outcome than perhaps what some people in the Christian right thought we were going to do and we’ve had to answer to them as well.
“I mean, we’ve actually done the very best we can by people and I think people should look at that.”
A week before the election, Mr Newman dismissed suggestions the LNP might make changes to surrogacy laws.
“We will not be making any changes to the laws on those matters,” Mr Newman said when asked about potential changes to surrogacy laws six days before the election.
Mr Newman last week refused to concede he had broken an election pledge by allowing greater surrogacy law restrictions to be drafted.
“I made a mistake,” he told brisbanetimes南京夜网.au in the interview recorded on Thursday.
“Basically there was a press conference in the dying days of the campaign.
“I was asked a question about something and frankly I was not across what my team had been pushing for back in 2010, and the background of this is it was a year before I become the leader that the whole surrogacy legislation had been dealt with in the Parliament.
“It was pointed out to me subsequently that, ‘hang on a second, that is not the view of the team, it is not the view of the party room and it’s particularly not the view of the parliamentary team right now’.”
Asked whether his LNP colleagues had pushed him into the surrogacy changes, Mr Newman said he was listening to his team.
“Again, this is a democracy,” he said.
“One minute the Labor Party are saying this guy doesn’t listen to people, this guy somehow just bosses people around; next minute I’m being criticised, am I, for listening to people? It’s a democracy.”
Mr Newman said he personally supported the planned changes to exclude singles and gay couples from surrogacy, but refused to outline his reasons.
“Well I do, and I’m not particularly going to canvass it today, but when it comes to Parliament you’ll hear the debate,” he said.
The Australian Christian Lobby, which lobbied Mr Bleijie over civil unions, welcomed the planned surrogacy law changes, arguing it was a win for the rights of children.
But Alex Greenwich, from the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group, argued the Newman government was moving Queensland backwards, saying removing rights from citizens was “one of the most un-Australian actions this government could take”.
In December, Mr Newman suggested the LNP wouldleave the recently passed civil union legislation in place if no couple had signed up by the time of a change of government, but would be unlikely to make changes if people had already registered.
However, during the formal election campaign, Mr Newman changed the emphasis such that he promised to look at repealing civil unions so long as couples were not left in “legal limbo”.
In May, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the state’s HIV rates had doubled over the past 10 years and he would re-direct about $2.5 million in annual funds away from the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.
Instead, a ministerial advisory committee would be created because the figures showed a fresh approach was needed, he said.
The government’s use of figures has been disputed. QAHC argued it only received funding for HIV prevention among gay men, a group it said had decreased as a proportion of people diagnosed over the past 10 years.
In late May, about 2000 people rallied in Brisbane’s CBD and marched to Parliament House to protest the de-funding of QAHC and the potential removal of civil unions.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.