It is shocking that LGBTQI+ couples do not have equal access to IVF treatment

It is an exciting adventure to start a family. But for LGBTQI+ couples, it can be very costly, both financially as well as emotionally.

The LGBTQI+ fertility tax is a significant obstacle for lesbians, bi-women, and transgender people in same-sex relationships to access NHS fertility treatment, even though they are not able to conceive naturally.  They may be asked to prove that they have tried to conceive up to 12 times before they can receive free NHS fertility treatment. 

The CCG requires that same-sex couples in the Jarrow constituency I represent have to prove their infertility through self-funding six rounds IUI (artificial insemination) before they can access NHS-funded IVF. Often this results in these couples having to post-pone plans of starting a family in order to save up for initial fertility treatments – all without the guarantee that the IUI will be successful and each round costing between £350-£1,600. 

This policy creates significant and unfair barriers for people who want to have children, especially for transgenders, lesbians, and bi women. Although the enormous cost of fertility treatments is overwhelming and there is no guarantee of success, it is not unreasonable. The emotional toll from this expensive process is immense. It is vital that the government intervenes to ensure equal access to NHS fertility services for all, regardless if they are male or female. 


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This injustice is further exacerbated by the fact that each CCG can choose how to delegate NHS funding. Access to NHS fertility services has become a lottery because of the differences in provisions between areas. Same-sex couples must go through up 12 rounds of IUI or IVF private before they are granted free access to the NHS. There is no one policy that applies across the country. 

After trying unsuccessfully to conceive for two years, couples of opposite sexes are granted NHS fertility treatment. Although this alone can be difficult and emotional, it also means that LGBTQI+ couples will face financial difficulties. A same-sex couple should not be limited in their ability start a family if they have access to the same services at no cost to them. Nearly four in five CCGs require LGBTQI+ couples to self-fund multiple rounds of artificial insemination, in the Jarrow constituency for example, LGBTQI+ couples have to pay up to £9,600 before they can access NHS services, while those in different-sex couples do not have to pay anything. 

We all know that starting a family and having children costs money. But lesbians and bi-women and other LGBTQI+ couples have to pay outrageous amounts unfairly. This is because IUI and IVF are not available to them at the same cost. Because of the current system, only LGBTQI+ couple who can self-fund their children are allowed to have them. Many are also unable to access the services that they need to start a new family.

Stonewall has launched a campaign to make IVF accessible to all LGBTQI+ persons. They are asking the Secretary of State to Health and Social Care for help to remove any unnecessary barriers LGBTQI+ face when starting a family and demand equal access to fertility services. 

It is completely unacceptable that unfair barriers are still in place for same-sex couples wanting to start their own families. We cannot allow the LGBTQI+-related fertility tax to continue. It is essential that the government reviews the inequalities in access to NHS-funded fertility care services in England. The CCG postcode lottery must be ended. This will ensure that everyone who identifies with LGBTQI+ can have equal access to NHS-funded care.