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LGBTQ RIGHTS/Single, gay women a top priority in amending reproductive rights law: Group

01/17/2024 04:02 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 17 (CNA) An LGBTQ advocacy group has urged the government to prioritize the reproductive rights of single women and lesbian couples as the Ministry of Health and Welfare prepares to amend the Assisted Reproduction Act.

In a statement Tuesday, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR) argued that heterosexual couples have access to sperm and egg donation and single women and lesbian couples should have the same rights.

Giving them access to sperm donation is reasonable and should be a priority in the future as laws are set to be amended, the alliance said.

On another issue being debated, surrogacy services for gay or infertile couples, the group said it involved the bodily autonomy of a third person, and any discussion should start with making sure the rights of the surrogates and the children were fully protected.

Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) said on Jan. 14, the day after Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections, that amending the Assisted Reproduction Act would be a challenge but also a priority in the near future.

Now that the Legislature consists of three parties, without any of them having an absolute majority, it was important to reach a consensus between the three and release a new act, Hsueh said.

When legislators held a hearing in December to review a draft amendment of the act that included issues related to gay couples, single women, and surrogates, Hsueh said his ministry was open to any discussions.

Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Wen Yu-hsia (溫玉霞) said at the time that 33 countries have legalized surrogacy and that over 60 percent of Taiwanese support the idea, and she wondered why the government seemed to have a conservative approach to the issue.

The reason for that, Hsueh answered, was that there were many controversies surrounding surrogacy.

Surrogacy is currently not legal in Taiwan, and Taiwanese citizens have to adopt a child born to an overseas surrogate mother if they want to make this choice, he said.

In countries where surrogacy is legal, a contract is often made between the surrogate mother and the couple, but if there's a breach of the contract, or if any side wants to seek compensation, legal provisions would have to exist to address such issues, Hsueh said.

Any legislation being considered in Taiwan would also have to provide sufficient protection for surrogates and ensure that their uteruses are not seen as simply "tools."

Hung Sun-han (洪申翰), a Democratic Progressive Party legislator, said at the hearing that according to health ministry data, over 40 percent of Taiwanese women that have a partner do not want to get married.

These women are treated as "single women" under the law and are excluded from the Assisted Reproductive Act, Hung said, leading some of them to travel abroad and face the risks of undergoing reproductive assessments and surgeries.

Hung argued that surrogacy and the reproductive rights of single women and lesbian couples should be discussed separately, since the latter was less controversial and that many women were facing age issues related to pregnancy and their needs had to be addressed.

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Lin Ching-yin, Chen Chieh-ling and Evelyn Yang)

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