Wegan lesbian couple wants a judicial review of NHS fertility branch
The Wegan lesbian couple is seeking a judicial review of the branch of a National Health Service’s (NHS) fertility sector in UK, accusing them of discrimination against LGBTQ families.
Megan Bacon-Evans, 34, and her wife Whitney, 33, from Windsor in Berkshire, are social media influencers called “Wegan” by their 220,000 followers across YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.
The two are accusing the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Frimley of penalizing them financially because they are LGBTQ.
Wegan lesbian couple face obstacles from NHS
The couple began a petition for equal treatment in November 2020 after facing barriers in starting a family under the current rules.
“For many years we have been talking about wanting to create our family– we’ve had our children’s names picked out for a decade,” Megan told the BBC.
“With equal marriage coming in, we thought we were equal in the eyes of the law, but not when it comes to starting a family,” she added.
These rules– which CCG Frimley says complies with guidance– state same-sex couples, single women, and people with wombs must pay for 12 IUI or IVF treatments to “prove” medical infertility.
This costs an estimated £30,000 or more, before they can receive help from NHS. This has been dubbed by many as a “gay tax.”
Discrimination against LGBTQ couples for treatment
However, many of the cisgendered heterosexual couples– including Megan’s sister– are required only to try to conceive for two years.
Supporting the couple in the review are the legal firm Leigh Day, together with Stonewall UK and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).
Their petition claims they are experiencing discrimination under the Equality Act and articles 8 and 14 of the European convention on human rights.
This review will be a major test of the NHS’s treatment of LGBTQ families. If the permission to review is granted, the case could be heard as soon as January 2022.
Solicitor Anna Dews of Leigh Day told the Guardian that a successful review could be a “powerful” precedent in challenging similar “unlawful” policies in UK.
Wegan lesbian couple’s campaign for LGBTQ families
Megan and Whitney rose to fame as bloggers and LGBTQ role models in 2009. They were featured in a BBC documentary, “Britain’s Relationship Secrets,” and a reality bridal show, “Say Yes to the Dress.”
Together for thirteen and married for four years, the couple have spent £8,000 on donor sperm and mandatory pre-insemination tests.
To help their petition against NHS, they launched a fundraiser amounting to £10,000 for potential legal fees even as they asked for support from the LGBTQ community.
“We’re doing this for every LGBT+ couple who had to give up on their hopes and dreams of creating a family,” Megan said.
She added, “It’s time for discrimination to end and for there to be equal treatment with heterosexual couples in the healthcare system.”