Victoria may soon introduce laws that permit all people conceived by donor material to access identifying information about their donor parent.
Historically, the law in relation to donor-conceived people erred in favour of the donor's right to privacy. However, the relevant legislation has been repeatedly amended since the late 1980's, to reflect growing community recognition of a donor-conceived person's right to know his or her biological heritage.
The Victorian Government amended the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic), effective 29 June 2015, and the changes mean that all donor-conceived people can now apply to obtain identifying information about their biological donor parent. If contact details can be ascertained, then the donor will be contacted and asked to provide their consent.
In its discussion paper, 'A Right to Know your Identity', the Victorian government has recently proposed further amendments, which would provide donor-conceived people the right to access identifying information about their donors, irrespective of whether the donor consents to the release of their personal information.
The Victorian government has invited interested parties to make submissions on its discussion paper prior to 4 September 2015.
What does this mean for same sex couples?
The amendments and proposed amendments to the legislation surrounding assisted reproduction show that this is still very much an evolving area of law. From a financial perspective, there is no impact on sperm donors from the most recent round of legislative change, nor the proposed changes in legislation; under Australian law, sperm donors are not recognised as fathers.
For same sex couples who are planning to have a family, assisted reproduction is an area of law that can be tricky in terms of parental rights and responsibilities, as there are legal implications (particularly for gay male couples) around sperm donors not being legally recognised as fathers.
This is a complex area of law and we recommend that same sex couples who are planning to start a family seek legal advice.
Julia Dickson | Lawyer
Family & Relationship Law
+61 3 9269 9505
Jodylee Bartal | Special Counsel
Family & Relationship Law
+61 3 9269 9323
All information in this article is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.