Sperm donor secrets emerge as Australia law erases anonymity

For Peter Peacock, fate arrived in the form of a registered letter.

The letter, at least initially, looked to be a bit of a letdown. Peacock had gone to the post office expecting the delivery of a big, furry aviator jacket he’d ordered online. And so it was with little fanfare that the Australian grandfather and retired cop tore the envelope open as he walked back to his car — at which point he stopped dead in his tracks.

“Dear Mr Peacock,” the letter began. “The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) has received an enquiry of a personal nature which may or may not relate to you. The matter concerns a record held in relation to a project you may have assisted with at Prince Henry’s Institute.”

Prince Henry’s? The Melbourne clinic where he’d donated sperm nearly 40 years ago?

There could be only one reason for such a letter, he thought. Someone out there had come to life through his donation.

His mind raced. How on earth was he going to tell everyone? How would he break it to his two grown daughters? And how could this person even know who he was? He had been promised that his donation would be anonymous.

And for decades it was, until a new law in one Australian state retroactively erased the anonymity of sperm and egg donors. Their offspring now have the legal right to know who they are.

Which is why a week after receiving that letter, Peacock found himself staring at a photograph of a woman named Gypsy Diamond, whose face looked so much like his own that he felt an instant and overwhelming connection. He gazed in wonder at her dark, almond-shaped eyes. His eyes.

“God almighty, I looked at it and I thought — ‘Bloody hell. I can’t deny that girl,’” he says. “She was my child from the start.”

By KRISTEN GELINEAU AP.com, August 2, 2018

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Sudbury court awards woman ownership of embryo called ‘property’ in precedent-setting case

Woman, 48, was divorced from man and awarded embryo based on fertility clinic consent form.

A court in Sudbury, Ont., has awarded an embryo to a woman in a case involving her ex-husband, in what is being called a precedent-setting decision because the embryo has no biological connection to the couple.embryo

Two childhood friends decided to get married in 2009 to have and raise children together, but the man didn’t want his sperm used and the woman’s eggs weren’t suitable. So three years later, they purchased eggs and sperm from a business in the United States for $11,500 US, and two good embryos were created through in-vitro fertilization. 

In December 2012, the woman gave birth to a son. Eight days later, the marriage dissolved and both sides claimed ownership of the second embryo in the divorce.

The judge’s decision awarding the embryo to the woman, who is now 48, was released last week.

It hinged on a consent form from a fertility clinic in southern Ontario on which the couple indicated the “patient’s wishes” would be honoured in case of divorce. The form describes the woman receiving the embryo as “the patient.”

Erik White · CBC News ·

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Compensation for Canadian Sperm And Egg Donors Will Help LGBTQ Couples Build Families

It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services in Canada.

The Canadian government is considering amendments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) that will benefit the LGBTQ community.

On May 29, Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather introduced a private members bill to the House of Commons. He is seeking decriminalization of surrogacy services and consideration of reasonable compensation for egg and sperm donation in Canada.canada

It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services. Under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 2004, any compensation beyond reasonable expenditures is a criminal offence punishable by 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. What constitutes a legitimate expense has yet to be clearly defined by the government, leading to criticism of the Act by many doctors and legal experts.

Housefather’s proposed change will affect many Canadians who don’t have their own eggs or sperm to start a family: single women, sterile men, older women who no longer produce viable eggs and people who carry genetic diseases they do not want to pass on.

It will also be of significant importance to LGBTQ couples.

As a fertility doctor, I know that having children is important to LGBTQ couples. However, most require the help of a fertility clinic to obtain donor sperm or eggs.

The intention of sections 6 and 7 of the Act were to prevent commercialization of donors and surrogates in Canada. In reality, the criminalization of potential donors has led to a complete lack of egg and sperm donors willing to provide their reproductive material for free. Donor sperm and donor egg banks are virtually non-existent in Canada. Surrogacy services are only available through recruiting agencies that operate in a “grey area” of the Act.

Lebanon: Same-Sex Relations Not Illegal

Homosexuality Not an ‘Unnatural Offense,’ Lebanon Appeals Court Rules

A district court of appeal in Lebanon issued a groundbreaking ruling on July 12, 2018, that consensual sex between people of the same sex is not unlawful, Human Rights Watch said.Lebanon Gay

The ruling follows similar judgments from lower courts that have declined to convict gay and transgender people of “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” in four separate rulings between 2007 and 2017. It is the first such ruling from an appeals court and moves Lebanon further toward decriminalizing homosexual conduct.

“This ruling signals a new horizon for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Lebanon, who have long been persecuted under discriminatory laws,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights at Human Rights Watch. “The court has effectively ordered the state to get out of people’s bedrooms.”

Activists in Lebanon have long fought to end the use of article 534 of the penal code to prosecute consensual same-sex conduct. The law is a colonial relic, put in place by the French mandate in the early 1900s, and punishes “any sexual intercourse contrary to the order of nature” with up to one year in prison. It has at times been enthusiastically wielded to persecute LGBT people, often affecting particularly vulnerable groups including transgender women and Syrian refugees.

HRW.org, July 19, 2018

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Netanyahu Votes Against Surrogacy Births for Israeli Gay Men Despite Voicing Support

Only on Sunday the PM said he’d like to see the law amended during the current Knesset’s term

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voted on Wednesday against a clause in the surrogacy bill that would allow surrogate births for same-sex couples despite voicing public support for it earlier this week.Israel gay

On Sunday Netanyahu said he supports the bill in a closed meeting on Likud lawmakers. “I support surrogacy for single fathers,” Netanyahu said, adding that he favored amending the law during the current Knesset session if possible, but if not, he said it should be done later on, via reservations to an amendment bill that MK Amir Ohana (Likud) raised last week, to permit surrogacy procedures for same-sex couples.

Netanyahu has expressed support for LGBT family rights several times in recent years but has not followed up most of these declarations with any action.

Netanyahu heads a conservative coalition which rejects any recognition of LGBT family units. Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-Orthodox parties and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party all reject support for any amendment on the issue.

Members of the opposition booed Netanyahu after the vote, and MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) was removed from the Knesset chamber. Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) was at the Knesset at the time of the vote but she did not enter the chamber.

and  July 18, 2018 – Haaretz.com
 
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For Many L.G.B.T. Migrants, North of the Border Is No Refuge

Jade Quintanilla had come to the northernmost edge of Mexico from El Salvador looking for help and safety, but five months had passed since she had arrived in this border town, and she was still too scared to cross into the United States and make her request for asylum.

Violence and persecution in Central America had brought many transgender women such as Ms. Quintanilla to this crossroads, along with countless other L.G.B.T. migrants. They are desperate to escape an unstable region where they are distinct targets.

Friends in San Salvador, Ms. Quintanilla said, were killed outright or humiliated in myriad ways: They were forced to cut their long hair and live as men; they were beaten; they were coerced into sex work; they were threatened into servitude as drug mules and gun traffickers.

Still, just a few miles from the border, Ms. Quintanilla, 22, hesitated. “I’ve gone up to the border many times and turned back,” she said in a bare concrete room at the group home where she was living, holding her thin arms at the elbows. “What if they ask, ‘Why would we accept a person like you in our country?’ I think about that a lot. It would be like putting a bullet to my head, if I arrive and they say no.”

While the Trump administration has tightened regulations on asylum qualifications related to gang violence and domestic abuse, migrants still can request asylum on the basis of persecution for their L.G.B.T. identity. But their chances of success are far from certain, and the journey to even reach the American border is especially risky for L.G.B.T. migrants.lgbt persecution

Trans women in particular encounter persistent abuse and harassment in Mexico at the hands of drug traffickers, rogue immigration agents and other migrants, according to lawyers and activists. Once they reach the United States, they regularly face hardship, as well.

There are no numbers available disclosing how many L.G.B.T. migrants seek asylum at the border each year or their success rate, but lawyers and activists say that the number of gay, lesbian and trans people seeking asylum each year is at least in the hundreds.

In weighing whether to risk the journey north, many L.G.B.T. migrants from Central America gamble that the road ahead cannot be worse than what they are leaving behind.

Victor Clark-Alfaro, an immigration expert at San Diego State University who is based in Tijuana, said that he has noticed more openly L.G.B.T. people in recent years making the journey to the border with hopes of seeking asylum. He said they are often the victims of powerful criminal gangs in Central America and Mexico — but also of bigoted neighbors, police officers and strangers.

by Jose A. Del Real, New York Times

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Israeli bill allows surrogacy for single women, denies it to same-sex couples

Single women are eligible for surrogacy but same-sex couples are not under a bill advanced by a Knesset committee.

The surrogacy bill must pass a second and third reading in the full Knesset to become law. The Labor, Welfare and Health Committee passed the measure in an 8-4 vote, with government coalition members in favor and the opposition against. The committee rejected an amendment to allow same-sex couples to undergo surrogacy.

Currently, only couples who are married and heterosexual have the right to hire a surrogate in Israel.Israel surrogacy

Under the bill, a family may have five children by surrogacy instead of the two now allowed, and a surrogate can give birth five times, including her own children, and up to age 39.

Itzik Shmuli of the Zionist Union, who is gay, attempted to sway his fellow committee members on extending the legislation to same-sex couples.

“I want to be a father and I cannot be a father. To do this, I have to go to a foreign country, pay $140,000 and hope it’s all right. My life is full, but there is always a part missing that accompanies me everywhere,” Shmuli said. “We are good enough to serve the country, but not to be parents. It’s an insult I cannot describe. It is a situation that is simply discriminatory, painful, and full of insults and dishonesty. This is wrong.”

Likud lawmaker Amir Ohana, who is openly gay and proposed the amendment to include same-sex couples in the bill that was not approved, told the committee about his difficulties in creating a family.

July 10, 2018 – JTA.org

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Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Equal Visa Rights, Hong Kong Court Says

Hong Kong’s top court ruled on Wednesday that committed same-sex couples living in the city had the same rights to spousal visas as married heterosexual couples, a decision that advocates said could have ripple effects in advancing gay rights.

The case, which was brought in 2014 by a British woman who wanted to join her partner, galvanized gay rights activists who said that Hong Kong had not been living up to its image as “Asia’s world city” by failing, until now, to recognize such rights. Banks and law firms had pushed for such recognition to lure and keep top talent in the financial and business center.hong kong gay visa

“This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment” for gay rights across Asia, Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The woman at the center of the case, known in court papers only as QT, came to Hong Kong as a visitor in 2011, several months after entering a same-sex civil partnership in Britain with SS, a woman of South African and British nationality who had taken a job in Hong Kong. QT’s application for a dependent visa was refused on the basis that marriage is defined in Hong Kong as the union of one man and one woman.

Without such a visa, a foreign partner would be able to stay in Hong Kong only on a short-term tourist visa and would not be able to work or receive public services.

QT took the government to court, claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation. She lost in 2016 in the Court of First Instance, which said it would be unlawful for the government to accept same-sex partnerships “through the back door.” Last fall, the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in her favor on the grounds that the visa policy was indirectly discriminatory. That decision was upheld in Wednesday’s unanimous ruling by the Court of Final Appeal.

In a statement, QT said the ruling “affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation, like any other form of discrimination, is offensive and demeaning.”

by Jennifer Jett and Austin Ramzy, New York Times, July 4, 2018

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Bermuda Court rules in favour of same-sex marriage

Gay couples won the right to marry yesterday for the second time in little more than a year in Bermuda, but the Government said it would appeal the Supreme Court decision to reverse the ban on same-sex marriage.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley upheld a constitutional challenge against the Domestic Partnership Act, delivering a judgment that declared invalid the parts of the legislation which revoked marriage equality.marital trust

His ruling was greeted with a round of applause from a packed public gallery and joyful celebrations outside the courtroom.

Several hours later, Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced the judgment would be appealed “subject to any legal advice that we receive”.

Mr Justice Kawaley’s ruling does not take immediate effect because he agreed to an application by Solicitor-General Melvin Douglas, representing the Attorney-General, for a six-week stay to allow the Government to decide whether to appeal.

During that period, gay couples will only be able to apply to enter into domestic partnerships.

Mr Brown said: “We are pleased that the Chief Justice has stayed the decision until an appeal can be submitted.”

by Sam Strangeways Owain Johnston-Barnes – The royal Gazette – June 7, 2018

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Gay family recognised by state in Ecuador in historic decision

A seven-year-old girl will be registered with both surnames of her two mothers in Ecuador, in a move hailed by campaigners as step forward for the recognition of LGBT families in the country.

The Constitutional Court in Ecuador ordered the Civil Registry office to register Satya Amani Bicknell Rothon, the daughter of couple Helen Bicknell and Nicola Rothon.

The case had been ongoing since September 2012.Ecuador

At a press conference after the decision, Bicknell said: “We knew we were going to win but we did not know when.

“This is the result of a collective effort,” she added.

 

One of the lawyer’s involved in the case, Jose Luis Guerra, said failing to register the child’s name was in violation of her rights, TeleSUR English reported.

Guerra added the move was significant in recognising the diversity of families in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Tribunal repealed the law that criminalised same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults in 1997.

In 2015, Ecuador passed an amendment to its Civil Code which legalised same-sex civil unions.

Yolanda Herrera, an Ecuadorian lawyer with a focus on LGBT rights, told TeleSUR English that there are still issues around adoption and surrogacy despite the recognition of civil unions.

by Lydia Smith, PinkNew.co.uk, May 31, 2018

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