Pregnancy of lesbian minister sparks debate

Updated: 2011-08-09 16:05


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CANBERRA -- Australian federal Finance Minister Penny Wong on Tuesday announced she is expecting a child with her partner, sparking fresh debate about federal government's stance on gay marriage.

The openly gay, Senator Wong revealed her long-term partner Sophie Allouache is expected to give birth in December this year, after falling pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

"Like any expecting parents, the prospect of welcoming this child into our lives fills us both with joy," Senator Wong said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We are extremely grateful to our IVF service and staff, and to our donor, for giving us the opportunity to raise a child together."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard welcomed the news, but she refused to say whether the pregnancy will have any impacts on Labor government's stance on gay marriage.

"Clearly there are strong views about same-sex marriage in the community," Gillard, who believes marriage must be between a man and a woman, told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"There are strong views in the political party I lead, and we' ll have a debate at national conference about those strongly held views. I've made my views clear."

Treasurer Wayne Swan and Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop also congratulated Senator Wong, wishing them all the best "on the long but enormously rewarding road of parenthood".

However, NewSouth Wales conservative Christian member of parliament (MP) Fred Nile, who is opposed to same-sex relationships and children being raised by gay couples, said Wong is setting a bad example by having a baby with her female partner.

"I'm totally against a baby being brought up by two mothers - the baby has human rights," Nile told Australia Associated Press on Tuesday.

"It's a very poor example for the rest of the Australian population.

"She needn't have made it public - it just promotes their lesbian lifestyle and trying to make it natural where it's unnatural.

"The only reason she's made it public is to make a statement to the Australian people."

The couple know the biological father, and he will also be known to the child, Senator Wong said, adding that the father's name will not be released to the media.

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