Gay couples in the UK should be able to receive fertility treatment on the National Health Service, according to a study by British health experts.
The draft guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), published today, say same-sex partners should be given access to IVF treatment, updating recommendations made in 2004.
It also suggests raising the current age limit of women eligible for the fertility procedure from 39 to 42, for those who have no other chance of conceiving.
However, the guidelines are not compulsory and some health authorities in England and Wales can still deny patients treatment, which costs £3,000 (€3,700 $4,700) for a single course, even if they are eligible.
UK gay rights charity Stonewall has welcomed the consultation.
Stonewall director of public ffairs Ruth Hunt said: ‘Stonewall welcomes this consultation and – for the first time – explicit acknowledgements of the issues same-sex couples face.
'Despite vital legal protections secured by Stonewall for same-sex couples who wish to become parents, many tell us they find it hard to access treatment either because of varying policies across primary care trusts or outright discrimination.
'Stonewall will continue to work closely with NICE and the NHS to make sure lesbian and bisexual women are fairly treated.’