Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Malta Today: IVF law ‘inherently homophobic’ – gay rights movement

MGRM hits out at IVF law, says gay parents will be forced to go abroad for medical service.
Tuesday 31 July 2012 - 09:30, Matthew Vella

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said the IVF bill was inherently homophobic due to its restrictive interpretation of what a family is.

The Malta Gay Rights Movement has hit out at Malta's draft law for the regulation of in vitro fertilization, claiming the Embryo Protection Bill is discriminatory against gay parents and "inherently homophobic in nature".

MGRM coordinator Gabi Calleja said the exclusion of same-sex couples and single persons from the eligible prospective parents as defined in the law, went against basic human rights principles such as the right to found a family.

The Nationalist government, which is also planning to legislate for cohabitation rights for homosexual relationships, has said IVF will only be available for married couples or unmarried, opposite-sex couples in a stable relationship. The bill also prohibits surrogacy, which means electing another woman other than a married spouse to bear the child for another couple.

Calleja said a law that would deny medical treatment on the basis of sexual orientation would constitute a worrying precedent. "It has reaching implications and engenders serious doubts in the minds of lesbian and gay citizens on this government's commitment to equality."

The draft law also prohibits the donation of sperm and eggs, which would otherwise make it possible for single parents or gay couples to have children by IVF.

"The criminalisation of sperm and egg donation has absolutely nothing to do with the protection of the embryo and is based on a restrictive model of the family which no longer applies in today's world. MGRM reiterates that it is not the role of the State to determine who can or cannot become a parent and the introduction of this Act would constitute an unjustified intrusion in the private lives of individuals," Calleja said.

"It is truly shameful that LGBT persons will be forced to access reproductive health services in other countries at their own expense while subsidising the health services available to their heterosexual counterparts with their tax contributions, once again reinforcing the notion of second class citizenship."

Calleja also said the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity says states should take all necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to ensure the right to found a family, including through access to adoption or assisted procreation (including donor insemination), without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"This principle has been upheld in a number of European Court of Human Rights judgements which in the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria held that same sex couples living in a stable relationship constitute family life and in a number of other cases held that states acted in violation of article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) when they treated cohabiting same-sex couples differently from cohabiting opposite-sex couples (P.B. and J.S. v. Austria; Karner v. Austria; & Kozak v. Poland)," Calleja said.

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