Australian families have changed considerably in recent decades, and many children are now born to unmarried parents, and/or raised in families that do not conform to the two biological parent nuclear form (Gray et al, 2010).
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, this can be attributed to a number factors, however, three primary reasons are outlined below:
- an increasing acceptance of the equality of same-sex couples, particularly among women and young people.
- Overall, research evidence indicates that children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially and educationally as other children.
- Same-sex couple and parenting relationships have gained considerable legal recognition.
Some of the research that highlights the increasing acceptance of the equality of same-sex couples is conveyed through rising number of same-sex couples living together in Australia as reported by the ABS. The 2016 census counted just under 46,800 same-sex couples living together, representing a 39% increase since 2011. The increase in the reported number of same-sex couples “may in part reflect greater willingness by people to identify themselves as being in a same-sex relationship and an improvement over the last 20 years in the rights of same-sex couples” (ABS 2016).
Secondly, in light of more recent research, some of the notions that originally challenged same-sex families, such as the ethical consideration for the well-being of children are being debated. This line of thought rests on the following arguments:
- children’s wellbeing requires two resident opposite sex parents, and that same-sex couples of either sex cannot provide a supportive family environment.
- Stereotypes of gay male sexuality would have it that gay men are uninvolved and uninterested in parenting or children, and;
- Their sexual conduct is incompatible with forming or raising families with children.
However, according to the AIFS, “Such arguments are not based on a comprehensive assessment of the evidence for this claim and are usually informed by religious or ideological beliefs about what constitutes a family” (AIFS 2016).
Current research suggests that children raised in same-sex parented families do as well emotionally, socially, and educationally as their peers in comparable kinds of heterosexual families. However, there are some differences between children raised in same-sex and other kinds of families. They’re below:
- Benefits in the quality of parenting children receive when raised from birth by lesbian couples
- Greater gender flexibility, particularly for sons, and their greater acceptance of family diversity
In light of these studies, in Australia, same-sex couple and parenting relationships have gained considerable legal recognition. These developments in legal recognition are conveyed through the extension of donor insemination and IVF services to lesbians and also “changed their Status of Children legislation, to enable the legal recognition of lesbian co-parenting couples, irrespective of which partner gave birth” (AIFS 2013). Furthermore, same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia since late 2017 which has fostered an improvement across Australian health, education, child protection, and foster care systems.
At Demeter Fertility, our doctors and staff have been helping many same-sex couples have families across Sydney and Australia. The excitement and joy of our patients and their extended friends and relatives when a hope becomes a reality is a wonderful part of our role as a fertility clinic. If you’re are considering taking the next step, please get in contact with us. We’d love to help you in your endeavour to raise a family.