Saturday, 23 October 2010

Di-ve: Assisted reproduction legislation should be inclusive, MGRM insists

21 October 2010;

Although a step forward, the Parliamentary Select Committee's report on assisted reproduction is discriminatory against same-sex couples, contrary to the European Convention of Human Rights, the Malta Gay Rights Movement said on Thursday.

The report suggests the provision access to assisted reproduction treatments to married couples and cohabiting heterosexual couples in "stable relationships".

The MGRM said that while providing access to cohabiting couples was welcome, preventing it to same-sex couples was discriminatory. It noted that in the Schalk and Kopf v. Austria, the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that same-sex couples living in a stable relationship constituted family life, and other cases found that states acted in violation of anti-discrimination principles when they treated cohabiting same-sex couples differently from heterosexual ones.

It also noted that restricting assisted reproduction services to couples was also inconsistent with the government's current legislation, which allows individuals to apply as single parents. Moreover, banning the donation of gametes by third parties directly affected the possibility of single women and same-sex couples to become parents.

The movement backed the recommendation to allow the freezing of embryos, but disagreed with any pressure on the parents to make use of all the embryos frozen. It said that such pressure went against the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which established "the right for women to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children".

The MGRM also expressed concern on the suggestion that those who undertake fertility treatment abroad could be obliged to register the donation of sperm in Malta, noting that this raised serious human rights concerns, particularly with respect to the right to private and family life.

It therefore urged government to ensure that any legislated enacted is "inclusive and respectful of international human rights principles".

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