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Queensland: opinion differ on a ruling by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal allowing lesbians access to in vitro fertilisation clinics.

KERRY O'BRIEN: No strangers to controversy, the Queensland Government today vowed it would stop lesbians having access to in vitro fertilisation programs. The Government says the programs should only be open to those who can't have children for medical reasons and it's determined to override a ruling by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal to the contrary.

The Australian Medical Association also wants tighter rules on IVF access. For their part, lesbian groups have labelled the moves homophonic. Genevieve Hussey reports.

MIKE HORAN: The IVF clinics have been set up to provide people with support and assistance on medical programs and medical issues to do with reproduction. They weren't established for the purpose of being a type of insemination centre for people who are quite healthy.

IAN DEARDON: I'm afraid that it represents a move back to the troglodyte views of the National Party from the 1950s and the 1960s.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: Shane Wyld says many lesbian couples want to have children. She claims they should have access to fertility clinics and says the problem is society just won't accept that lesbians often make good parents.

SHANE WYLD: There is no question that there are good and bad parents, whether it be in the heterosexual or the gay community. What we do say is that we shouldn't be excluded and our rights extinguished and stop us from having families for homophonic reasons and discriminatory reasons. We should be judged on our individual merit. And it's gay and lesbian families, in official police statistics, are not the people who are harming children. We are not the ones abusing or using violence against them.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: The Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, in a landmark decision, granted compensation to a lesbian who was refused treatment at a Brisbane fertility clinic. It's a decision that's brought an angry reaction, with claims it's a misuse of the IVF program and that heterosexual couples could miss out, with scarce resources switched to lesbians.

TIM FISCHER: Society should be tolerant, but not to the point of subsidising and promoting a way of life whereby children would be artificially provided through precious and costly IVF programs to gay and lesbian couples.

SHANE WYLD: Well, we don't think anybody's jumping the queue; we're just joining the queue. The issue for us, again, is that if any couples have problems having children, everybody should have equal access to fertility clinics. Now, if there's an issue of resources, the issue should be that the Government is cutting back on spending so much. They should increase it so everybody can have equal access. I mean, do they start to chop or stop poor people rather than rich people accessing these fertility clinics?

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: The Australian Medical Association says the court decision has placed doctors in a difficult position. It wants tighter guidelines for accessing IVF programs, but wants the community to decide what those guidelines are.

DOUG KEEPING: Doctors are caught in that dilemma: which should they do? All of the evidence, all of the bodies that they respect say one thing but they're not backed by law. All the guidelines, all the instructions, what the Government thinks, what the health department thinks, what the NHMRC thinks, what the Ethics Committee thinks, they're all very solid, they're the things that medicine is based on, but they don't have the backing of law.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: The Queensland Government believes the decision has implications for clinics throughout Australia. Most States have restrictions on access to IVF programs. In Victoria you have to be married. Queensland wants the Federal Government to help it override the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal decision. It believes limiting access through Medicare may be possible.

MIKE HORAN: Well, I think that the clinics are there purely to provide medical assistance and clinical assistance to people who have reproductive problems. And I think that's the guidelines that the clinicians are looking for. They want it quite clearly in the licence regulations that are provided by the Queensland Health Department to the private clinics.

IAN DEARDON: This conservative government is clearly not committed to anti-discrimination legislation in Queensland. Every time we have something that is a clear breach of the Anti-Discrimination Act we have the Government running around trying to change the law so they're allowed to discriminate.

GENEVIEVE HUSSEY: It's been suggested the gay community could open its own sperm bank for use by lesbian couples. But lesbians say they should have the same access as others and will fight any moves to legislate their rights away.

SHANE WYLD: The important issue for us is that all families, all couples who seek to have children, should have the same rights. And if there's medical science there nobody should be excluded.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Genevieve Hussey.