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Current Affairs

Stonewall delighted at Commons vote for lesbian rights

Tony Grew May 20, 2008

Gay equality organisation Stonewall has welcomed the decision of the House of Commons to remove the requirement for doctors to consider the ‘need for a father’ when deciding whether to offer women fertility treatments.

Today’s debate was heated, with some MPs insisting that lesbians and single women are less able to raise children than heterosexual couples.

Two amendments that would have retained a reference to fathers or ‘male role models’ were rejected in the Commons.

Doctors will now consider whether the child will receive “supportive parenting.”

“We are absoluely delighted at the outcome of both votes,” Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of Stonewall, told

“The House of Commons has recognised Britain as it really is at the start of the 21st century instead of the way some people would have liked it to be in 1958.”

Stonewall has been working on the measure to ensure equality for lesbians and single women for more than two years and lobbying MPs and members of the Lords since December.

Mr Summerskill said that as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill has already passed the Lords its passage to Royal Assent should be uncomplicated.

The Commons debate was fractious, with MPs arguing about the eficacy of lesbian parents and the need for children to have a father figure.

“It was ditressing to hear some quite unpleasant things said about lesbian and gay people, but perhaps we should commend the MPs involved at least for the honesty of their ourbursts,” said Mr Summerskill.

He rebuffed claims by some MPs that no lesbians had come forward to speak about the discimination they have faced in accessing fertility treatment.

“We have got catalogues of cases, which had been drawn to MPs’ attention.

“Lesbians have faced active disrimination – if one was less than gracious one might suggest some MPs had breachced the ninth commandment.”

Although the bill is expected to become law without any further impediment, the need for re-training fertility clinics and the introduction of new NHS guidance means it will probably not come into effect until the autumn.

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