Qld donor conception law reforms urged

·2-min read

Queenslanders conceived by donor should have the legal right to access their donor's identity and medical history when they turn 18, a report says.

A parliamentary committee has called for sweeping law reforms to ensure all people can access their own genetic histories in a report released on Wednesday.

The Legal Affairs and Safety Committee says "attitudes towards donor conception and expectations around anonymity have changed" and proposed laws should also be retrospective.

"A person not knowing their genetic origin may negatively impact on their sense of identity and wellbeing and that early disclosure of donor conception status is important to their formation of identity," said the report, tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

Queensland birth certificates should show the method of a person's birth if it is by donor, the report said.

The certificates of people already born by donor should be amended as well.

To avoid the risk of consanguineous relationships, the report said, people should know the gender and birth year of any donor siblings.

That change could help alleviate some of the "fear or hesitancy that donor-conceived people may hold about forming relationships in general".

The report recommended donors be provided with genders and birth dates of biological children upon request.

But it said any attempt to make contact should be subject to mutual consent.

The report called for the state government to set up a central donor conception register within the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

That register should be mandatory for fertility clinics and people in private donor arrangements should be encouraged to use it.

Donors who are currently anonymous should be added to that list, and the destruction of donor records should be prohibited.

"Ultimately, at the heart of this issue lies the central legal and ethical dilemma: does a person's right to know their genetic history outweigh a person's right to privacy? The committee has found that it does," Queensland MP and committee chair Peter Russo wrote.

The committee said the Queensland register should be linked with those in other states and territories and donors should also be provided with genders and birth dates of biological children upon request.

The report also called for the government to fund counselling and other support for donor conceived-people and donors themselves.

"The committee heard of donor-conceived people continually searching the faces of strangers looking for genetic similarities," Mr Russo wrote.

"We heard of people being refused records and information and of people conducting comprehensive searches through social media trying to connect with biological family.

"We heard from people who were so uncertain of their genetic history that they were apprehensive to embark on relationships themselves.

"The recommendations in this report will make it possible for donor-conceived people to be provided with important information -- including medical information -- about their donor, and information about donor siblings."