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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
Bishop against 'IVF for lesbians'
Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester
The bishop believes children need parents of both genders
The Bishop of Rochester has spoken out against plans to make IVF readily available to single women and lesbians.

New legislation due to be included in the Queen's Speech in November is likely to remove the baby's "need for a father" to be considered in IVF.

Kent bishop Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali is leading a group of churchmen who oppose the measure being included in the Human Tissues and Embryos Bill.

But critics claim he would not have made the comments if he was a woman.

However, Bishop Nazir-Ali said: "Children need parents of both genders.

If the Bishop of Rochester was a woman I don't think he would make such an insensitive statement
Jess Wood

"Particularly, boys need fathers for the sake of security, identity and masculinity and relating to people of the same sex and the other sex."

The Church of England's Council for Mission and Public Affairs has given evidence to a parliamentary committee considering the bill.

Bishop Nazir-Ali has said the contribution being made to social dysfunction by the absence of fathers is becoming more obvious by the day.

He recognised the courage of single mothers who strove to bring up children alone, but becoming a single parent was very far from setting out policy whose intention was to bring children into the world without a father.

"Having a child is not a right," said the bishop. "What we have to do is consider the welfare of the child.

'No different'

"A child is a human person who is an end in themselves and not a means to somebody else's end."

But organisations supporting the gay and lesbian community believe everyone should have the right to fertility treatment.

"If the Bishop of Rochester was a woman I don't think he would make such an insensitive statement," said Jess Wood, who runs Allsorts Youth Project in Brighton.

"Most women want to be mothers and lesbians are no different from any other woman."

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