Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is the big issue with Surrogacy??

WE tend to hear about surrogacy arrangements only when celebrities are involved. Robert De Niro, gay pop singer Ricky Martin, 26-year-old Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, Elton John and David Furness have all used surrogate mums.

For years the public has been wary of these arrangements. In recent months, though, there has been a shift in public opinion in Australia, sparked by Nicole Kidman's outing of her gestational carrier in the wake of her past fertility problems.

As increasing numbers of women hold off starting a family far past their fertility peak, and as gay men discover the joys of parenting, there has been a substantial increase in surrogacy arrangements globally.

Traditional surrogacy, where a man inseminates a surrogate mother to carry a child for his wife, was sanctioned by Babylonian law in 1760BC. Today it is possible for the intending parent to use their own eggs or those of a third-party donor. The absence of any biological link to the surrogate mum makes it easier for this woman to see herself as babysitting the child of another.

The remuneration of surrogates is legal and well regulated in many states of the US, Canada, India, Thailand and Iran. The American Organisation of Parents through Surrogacy estimates that 25,000 US babies were born through surrogacy in the 30 years to 2006. More than 1000 gestational surrogacy cycles take place in the US every year.

In Europe, more than 20,000 cross-border fertility treatments take place annually. There is now a professional body - the Society of Cross-Border Reproductive Care - which this year will host its second international congress in Macau, China. Europe has a bimonthly magazine, Fertility Road, devoted to intending parents in need of in-vitro fertilisation and surrogacy services. Overseas agencies report no shortage of applications from intending parents and surrogates alike.

In Australia, a recent survey of international surrogacy agencies has shown a 350 per cent increase in babies born via surrogacy during the past three years. More than 300 babies will be born to Australians via commercial surrogacy arrangements across the world in the year to June.

Many who have never met an infertile couple initially feel some anxiety about the notion. This is understandable. For surrogacy calls into question two traditional pillars of Western values: family and motherhood. Perhaps we are right to be a little uncomfortable. It is not a path chosen lightly. Intending parents see it as a last resort when IVF attempts and often adoption paths have reached dead ends.

Research demonstrates that couples with children born through surrogacy are in fact highly motivated and committed to their children. It also indicates that parenting outcomes for children born through surrogacy are equal or better when compared with parenting outcomes for children from traditional families, on all assessed indicators.

Such families include thousands of Australian women who have miscarried on multiple occasions or had a hysterectomy after cancer, and also include gay men, thwarted by inadequate adoption opportunities, who want to direct their energy and love into parenthood.

Some who oppose surrogacy would have us believe that such parents are choosing to avoid the messy inconvenience of parenthood. Try telling that to families with a child via surrogacy, dealing with dirty nappies, bottle feeds and toilet training.

And are surrogate mothers exploited? Do they suffer psychological harm once they give up the child to its biological parent(s)? As Stanford University professor of ethics Debra Satz observes "not all women 'bond' with their foetuses. Some women abort them."

Only a certain type of woman has the ability to give the gift of life to another. Such women are carefully screened to ensure they are unlikely to bond to the baby after delivery in the same way as biological mothers. The research confirms that during the pregnancy, surrogate mothers often form a relationship with the couple rather than the growing child. In the latest US research, the overwhelming majority report that carrying a child for another was important to them and very positive. .

Yet NSW has recently joined Queensland in deciding that the state should decide the appropriate way a family is created, by criminalising overseas arrangements, even in places where the practice is carefully regulated, such as California, as well as India, where a bill has just been passed to safeguard the practice there.

When Victoria criminalised surrogacy in 2006, Senator Stephen Conroy and his wife, Paula, who had had a hysterectomy following cancer, were faced with breaking the law. Instead they crossed the border to NSW to make their dream come true. Happily, they were one of the few couples for whom altruistic surrogacy proved viable, but their strategy was little different from those intending parents who now journey internationally.

While there is great discomfort among ethicists over the concept of compensating a surrogate mum for carrying a child, to the average intending parent, there is far more discomfort over not doing so.

Sam Everingham is co-convener of Australian Families Through Gestational Surrogacy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don’t just wait, make it better!

Don’t just wait, make it better! PDF Print .
Ali Hogg 29 October 2010
Dan Savage

Dan Savage

Schoolyards are breeding grounds for bullying at the best of times. But if you are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) – or unsure or presumed to be – bullying at school can be a million times worse.

Taunts, name-calling, assault, derision, discrimination and ostracism are common, as is the constant use of “gay” as a derogatory term applied to anything and everything, reinforcing the idea that you are inferior; and sex education is more often than not solely about heterosexual sex.

It is no wonder that LGBTI youth feel more alienated, different, unaccepted and often take their own lives, feeling that it is the only escape from this oppression.

In the United States, there has recently been a spate of teen suicides resulting from homophobic bullying. But there has also been a positive response. Dan Savage, a popular journalist, started a video project called “It gets better”. Savage’s aim was to start a movement of people recording video messages to young LGBTI people in situations where they feel isolated at school and are at risk of suicide.

Savage was prompted to start the campaign after hearing about one of those teen victims – Billy Lucas – who took their own life:

I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren’t allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don’t bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay – or from ever coming out – by depriving them of information, resources and positive role models.

Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.

Savage and his partner recorded an eight-and-a-half minute video in which they talked about the homophobic discrimination and bullying they faced in high school and how life got better after graduating.

Many thousands of people have joined in the campaign, making videos aimed at suicidal and alienated teens encouraging them not to end their lives.

As someone who came out at a young age and felt like I was the only lesbian at my school, I would have loved it if I could have watched reassuring messages like Savage’s and many others on YouTube.

However, the campaign has limitations.

Firstly, it sends a message that you should just sit it out until high school is over. There is no encouragement to do something about it. It is absolutely unacceptable that teens are expected to just wait out the trauma instead of challenging it.

Secondly, it can give false hope. It’s simply not the case that it gets better for everybody once school’s out. For many famous or wealthy people who have contributed to the project, it may well get better. But for many working-class people, while the schoolyard homophobic bullying may end, a new world of bullying awaits in the workforce and the wider world.

We face the horrors of capitalism: a system that supports the discrimination of LGBTI people and says it’s okay for us to be treated as second-class citizens; that says we can’t get married like everyone else; that says we can’t adopt children like everyone else; that gives us only token representation in the media – and even then we are often portrayed as an embarrassing stereotype.

Most heterosexual people just need to have sex to have children. If a lesbian wants the same, she has to go through police checks and a bureaucratic nightmare and have the funds to pay for that nightmare. These are just a few examples.

As long as there are laws that say one section of society doesn’t deserve equal rights with their heterosexual brothers and sisters, then homophobic bullying will continue – in schools, in workplaces, and on the streets. And it will continue to be legitimised by the government.

One of the inspiring things to come out of “It gets better” is a campaign by teen activists the US who were both inspired by but had similar criticisms of the campaign. They decided to make a campaign of their own to respond to the teen suicides.

They are arguing for people not to sit back and wait for it to get better but to play a role to “Make it better”. Many of those involved are high school students themselves, arguing that teenagers need to stand up and be strong, start gay/straight alliances and march for gay rights.

Their campaign is taking off, with many hundreds making videos with a defiant message not to give up. They are sending a clear message: if you want to see a better world, don’t wait for it – make it happen!

Ali is the convenor of Equal Love and a member of Socialist Alternative.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Portia DeGeneres Talks about being a Lesbian

ACTRESS Portia DeGeneres says the shame of being a lesbian drove her to anorexia, with her weight plummeting to 40kg.

In an exclusive interview with Women’s Weekly, the Australian actress, who is married to US TV host Ellen DeGeneres, admitted she struggled with her sexual identity and eating disorders for many years.

The star - who was married to documentary filmmaker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999 before coming out publicly as a lesbian - said her weight began to plummet as she rose to fame on the TV series Ally McBeal playing Nell Porter.

"It took a long, long time for me to think I had a problem," she said.

"I was around 90 pounds (40kg) and I remember feeling very afraid of food every night. I didn’t want to walk past pizza restaurants because that would make me remember what it was like to eat pizza, and I was truly afraid that I was going to be overcome with the urge to binge and that if I started bingeing then I just wouldn’t stop."

The Arrested Development star, who was born Amanda Lee Rogers and used the stage name Portia de Rossi before changing her name to Portia DeGeneres, said when she met Ellen DeGeneres backstage at a rock concert she was still coming to terms with her sexuality.

The talk show host had invited the willowy blonde back to her house with a group of friends after the show but the actress declined because she was "terrified" of dating a star and being discovered as a lesbian.

"I had such a long way to go before I could even be seen in public with a woman, much less be seen in public with that one," Portia DeGeneres said in the interview, laughing.

Three years later, in December 2004, the two reignited and a romance blossomed. They married on August 16, 2008.

Portia DeGeneres said she and her wife would love to move to Australia and described the opposition of Prime Minister Julia Gillard to gay marriage as "disappointing."

The former University of Melbourne law student tells of her struggles and romance with Ellen DeGeneres in her new autobiography Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/being-a-lesbian-gave-me-anorexia-portia-degeneres/story-e6frfmqi-1225944394434#ixzz13cUgnl6r

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Message from Hillary Clinton "It Does Get Better"

Message to LGBT Youth

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 19, 2010

[Video is available here: http://www.youtube.com/glifaa]

Like millions of Americans, I was terribly saddened to learn of the recent suicides of several teenagers across our country after being bullied because they were gay or because people thought they were gay. Children are particularly vulnerable to the hurt caused by discrimination and prejudice and we have lost many young people over the years to suicide. These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred.

I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied, or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future: First of all, hang in there and ask for help. Your life is so important—to your family, your friends, and to your country. And there is so much waiting for you, both personally and professionally— there are so many opportunities for you to develop your talents and make your contributions.

And these opportunities will only increase. Because the story of America is the story of people coming together to tear down barriers, stand up for rights, and insist on equality, not only for themselves but for all people. And in the process, they create a community of support and solidarity that endures. Just think of the progress made by women just during my lifetime by women, or ethnic, racial and religious minorities over the course of our history —and by gays and lesbians, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly. Here at the State Department, I am grateful every day for the work of our LGBT employees who are serving the United States as foreign service officers and civil servants here and around the world. It wasn’t long ago that these men and women would not have been able to serve openly, but today they can—because it has gotten better. And it will get better for you.

So take heart, and have hope, and please remember that your life is valuable, and that you are not alone. Many people are standing with you and sending you their thoughts, their prayers and their strength. Count me among them.

Take care of yourself.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I was reading a article about Adam Lambert performing in Kuala Lumpur. The article was about the protesting by the conservative Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS).

But what I want to talk about is the post of one of the comments. the person stated "homophobics are causing heterophobia among us gays if they keep being repulsive like this". I find this an interesting comment, as I have never really looked at it at the angle of this reader. Is the GLBTIQ community becoming heterophobic, because they will not accept us, is this our way of turning the tables on them??

I would have thought as human beings that we are capable of removing the "phobic" epidemic, but it appears that we are more capable of creating it. With the push for equal rights for marriage, changing the law for same sex parents especially gay dads, the reduction of gay teen suicide being in the media and on the agenda. The success rate of these causes are very low at this stage and the light at the end of the tunnel is a very long way. Are we taking the quick get out of jail card, and now using heterophobia for the reason for non acceptance by heterosexual, so we now don't accept them??

History will tell you that homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality have been around since the day man and women become creatures on this planet. Heterosexuality was given the role of the superior sexual preference due to it ability to breed. Today we have the technology to create babies through other means other then sexual intercourse. Is the heterosexual world losing it grip of the ruler and doesn't want to accept equality is for everyone, or is it that the GLBTIQ community found another way of fight back?? Who is right and who is wrong??

Let us all work together and remove all references to "phobia"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome to Coming Out Australia Blog

Coming Out Australia is an organisation that provides support and information for the GLBTIQ community about Coming out and issues surrounding being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer.

I am hoping this blog will bring out the joys and tears of coming out and also issues relating to homophobia, sexual health, politics and everything in between.