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10 Aug 2011

Australian politician Penny Wong and partner announce pregnancy

The only openly lesbian member of the Australian cabinet has announced that her partner is expecting the couple's first child; news of the pregnancy is expected to respark another round of debate about same-sex marriage.

Australian federal Finance Minister Penny Wong on Tuesday announced she is expecting a child with her partner Sophie Allouache. 

Australian federal Finance Minister Penny Wong (right) with her partner Sophie Allouache.

Wong, who's Australia's first openly gay cabinet minister, said that her partner is expected to give birth in December after conceiving the child through in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

"Like any expecting parents, the prospect of welcoming this child into our lives fills us both with joy," 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."

The statement added that the biological father of the child is known to the couple, and will be known to the child. His name will however not be released to the media by agreement of all parties. 

"We have chosen to make this statement about Sophie’s pregnancy as we understand there may be public interest due to my position."

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) member was also quoted as saying in The Age on Aug 10: ''I can understand for some people it may give rise to a whole range of political and policy comment, and I suppose for me the way I want to approach this in my own head has been to be very clear about the distinction between what is political and what is personal, what is my public life and what is my private life. I don't want to engage in the policy debate about these issues in the context of something that is so deeply personal and so lovely.''

Although Wong had for a period of time adhered to party policy by declining to publicly support same-sex marriage, she broke ranks to fully support the legal right of same-sex couples to marry at the ALP National Conference in November last year.

The news has sparked fresh debate about federal government's stance on gay marriage with Prime Minister Julia Gillard congratulating the couple while refusing 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 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." Said Gillard who has previously stated that she believes marriage must be between a man and a woman. Gillard is herself unmarried but lives with her long-term partner Tim Mathieson.

Political watchers say the issue of gay marriage is set to dominate the ALP's National Conference in December.


Reader's Comments

1. 2011-08-10 19:14  
Whilst Ms Gillard has made her personal views very well known she seems totally oblivious to the fact that she is an elected person in the House of Representatives and as such she should NOT be imposing her personal views on the policy debate. The only valid view she should be promoting is the majority view of her voting constituents. I call on Ms Gillard and ALL politicians in Australia to truly represent their electorate and not their own person views in not just this debate but in fact ALL government business. It is well known that well over 60% of Australians support same gender marriage and the religious right should just pull their head in and let us get on with it.
Comment edited on 2011-08-10 19:16:25
2. 2011-08-10 19:26  
This site has some really cool protest signs

3. 2011-08-11 00:44  
I was very surprised when I saw this on The Star's website.. Very...
4. 2011-08-11 01:25  
Do you mean Malaysia's The Star? Maybe because Penny Wong was born in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
5. 2011-08-11 09:06  
Who owns the child ? The couple or the biological father and the surrogate mother ?

What a complex world ? Why bring up a child into this world for selfish reasons ? Just to please the adults. Have you ever thought for the innocent child ? What will other kids in school react and respond to this child ? Have the adults ever thought of this ?

There are so many homeless kids out there. Go adopt one and make him / her your own. Love comes in many forms. While I applaud the couple for being together and raise a child but not in this way. Sorry , perhaps I am still as conservative as ever.

My partner wanted to have a child by donating his sperm with a willing person to be the surrogate mother. I emphatically said no. I told him to go adopt an orphaned or support a child through the homes etc ..but not this way. I feel for the child when he / she grows up. In the end , we adopted a child who lost his parents through aids and is now living very happily with both of us in our adopted country.

It's not easy bringing up a child and we are not even sure what the future holds for all of us but we try to give the child a better tomorrow without any pressure from his own world. ( Children are but children , the things they say can sometimes be very hurtful to the child and we have to take this growing up phase some consideration )
6. 2011-08-11 19:33  
I would like to just say Congratulations! And bring up the baby to be a loving human being free of any form of prejudice! Both mothers remind me of lesbian couple, Lindsay & Melannie with a gay biological father, Brian Kinney in the American TV series Queer As Folks (DVDs sold in Malaysia too). Expecting to see more LGBT tying the knots soon in the future! :P
7. 2011-08-12 02:30  
Yeah.. its Malaysia's The Star.
I know she's Malaysian born, but for a Malaysian newspaper to publicize it without any tinge of haughty derision is amazing.
Same goes for Rev Oyoung's wedding announcement.
Maybe Malaysia will legalize gay marriage soon!! (Can't blame a dreamer!)
8. 2011-08-12 12:54  
@matahari_gar, well said and i am having the same opinion. Take care.
9. 2011-08-14 20:45  
It is a normal human instinct when you have a great partner, achieved your ambitions, reach a certain stage in your life, naturally you feel you miss something and want to have a child and raise a family. You feel you want to share your love like anyone else.

Congratulations to Penny Wong and her partner Sophie Allouache. May the baby brings both of you greater happiness and contentment.
10. 2011-08-19 13:57  
@matahari_gar: How's wanting to have a flesh and blood child of your own "selfish reasons"? Should gays and lesbians not have the right to procreate if they wish to? In any case, Ms Wong has stated that the father will be actively involved in the child's upbringing.
11. 2011-08-19 14:01  
It is a bit sad when members of our own community criticise our own brothers and sisters for wanting to have families just like everyone else.
Comment edited on 2011-08-19 14:02:09

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