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Abstract

This article centres on the impact of heteronormativity on the ways in which parental desires, intentions and practices of lesbian, gay, or trans people in Czechia are subjected to barriers. It explores heteronormativity by analysing how access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for non-straight couples (including single women) has been negotiated. We discuss discrimination against, and the statistical marginalisation of, homoparental families; the fact that same-sex Czech couples are not yet allowed to marry and that instead a new legal institution, the civil union, was introduced exclusively for them, explicitly prohibiting them from forming parental couples; the political disregard of the step-child adoption amendment to the Act on Civil Unions; and the obligation of irreversible surgical elimination of one’s reproductive function before the authorisation of administrative gender change for trans people.

We argue that heteronormativity also structures the practices of assisted reproduction clinics that allow lesbian couples access to assisted reproduction procedures, but only as part of mock straight couples. Transgender persons are only allowed to be parents if the assisted reproduction clinic can define them, at any given moment, in line with the binary heterosexual framework.

Drawing on changing Czech legislative frameworks we note several changes which aim at reducing discrimination against LGBTQ people: the lifting of the ban on adoption by a person in a civil union; a legislative proposal from 2018 on gender-neutral marriage that includes full parental rights; and a bill proposal that includes a package of amendments to several laws aiming to allowing administrative gender change without the requirement of the removal of reproductive organs. Nevertheless, when investigated with the help of framing analysis, debates on expanding access to assisted reproduction beyond straight couples show certain contradictions: the framings used allow for non-straight people’s access to ART, but at the same time they reproduce gender stereotypes, in which femininity is primarily associated with motherhood and (women’s) reproductive function is to serve the state’s demographic goals. Although these framings question some existing injustices, they confirm rather than contest the basic presumptions of heteronormativity, and they leave queer and trans reproduction invisible.

Note on the Author

Hana Hašková, a sociologist, is a senior researcher at the department of Gender and Sociology at the Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and teaches at Charles University, Prague. She studies the gender aspects of and links between changes in intimate lives, partnerships and families in contemporary societies and explores the relations between the policies, discourses and practices of care in a historical and international perspective.

Zdeněk Sloboda graduated in Media Studies. His academic focus is on theory of media literacy (education) and socialization. Parallel to this he researches, teaches and writes on gender and sexualities in the context of media representations, and of social movements. He has published a book Adolescence, Parenting and (Homo)sexuality (2016), was a LGBTQ activist, and is chair of the Czech governmental Committee for Sexual Minorities.

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