Fertility Benefits are Diversity Benefits

By introducing fertility benefits, companies can consciously promote diversity within the organisation. Not only do they support women (and couples) in a difficult phase of life through fertility benefits, but rainbow families also benefit disproportionately from this benefit. In this article, we explain why.
Lesbisches Paar

Non-traditional family models are increasing

The social changes of recent years are also reflected in the changing family models. One notable trend is the increase in non-traditional family structures on a global scale. In the past, starting a family was often a challenge for members of the LGBTQ+ community, but today reproductive advances such as sperm donation, egg donation and surrogacy, as well as the possibility of adoption, are opening up new avenues to parenthood.

A milestone for equal rights was the introduction of same-sex marriage in Germany in 2017, followed by Austria in 2019 and Switzerland in 2022. These legal changes finally open up the possibility of adoption to same-sex couples, a significant step towards recognising a wide range of family models.

The increasing opportunities not only influence the formation of families, but also individual wishes and plans. A study conducted by Family Equality in the USA in 2019 showed that 63% of 18-35-year-old members of the LGBTQ+ community at the time wanted to start a family or expand their existing family, with 48% making concrete plans to do so. This change is also emerging in the DACH region and continental Europe, albeit at a slightly slower pace compared to the USA. Here, too, rainbow families are steadily increasing and surveys today would probably arrive at almost similarly high percentages.

Discrimination in family education for a long time

Despite the welcome social change and legal progress in the area of family formation for LGBTQ+ couples, there are still challenges and discrimination that urgently need to be addressed. Even in 2024, same-sex couples still face certain discrimination when starting a family.

In Germany, for example, there is still a rule that two mothers cannot be legally recognised at the birth of a child. While the husband of a woman who gives birth to a child after donating sperm is automatically recognised as the father of the child, this does not apply to the wife of a woman who gives birth to a child after donating sperm. The non-birth mother in a lesbian marriage still has to adopt the child born in the form of a “stepchild adoption”. A regulation that, despite social change, is still met with incomprehension and will hopefully be revised in the near future.

Furthermore, many methods that lesbian and gay couples use to start a family are out of reach in the DACH region due to legal restrictions. Egg donation and surrogacy, for example, are prohibited in Germany. This forces gay couples who want to use these methods to go abroad. The so-called ROPA method, in which one mother donates the egg and the other carries the child, is also not permitted in Germany and Switzerland. These restrictions make it clear that despite much progress in the area of equal rights, there is still a need for action to facilitate family formation for LGBTQ+ people and give them equal rights.

Health insurance companies in Germany discriminate against lesbian couples

Unfortunately, discrimination against lesbian couples also extends to the area of health insurance in Germany. Blatant unequal treatment becomes clear when it comes to the assumption of costs for fertility treatment. Fertility treatments are not subsidised by health insurance companies if sperm donation is necessary. In this case, the entire treatment costs – including the treatment itself and the medication, not just the donor sperm – must be borne by the patient. This applies even if IVF treatment is necessary for other medical reasons (e.g. blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis). This affects lesbian couples in every single case, whereas the need for sperm donation is the exception rather than the rule for heterosexual couples.

In comparison, the situation in Austria is different. Here, the IVF fund covers the same number of attempts for lesbian couples as for heterosexual couples. In Switzerland, on the other hand, health insurance generally does not cover any costs associated with fertility treatments.

This inequality means that fertility treatment for lesbian couples in Germany is disproportionately expensive, especially if more complex IVF treatment is necessary and insemination is not sufficient. There is an urgent need to revise these regulations in order to ensure fair and equal cost coverage for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Fertility Benefits are Diversity Benefits

By offering fertility benefits, companies can clearly set an example for diversity by explicitly offering this benefit for all forms of partnership and all ways of starting a family. The Onuava platform, for example, offers targeted information not only for heterosexual couples who wish to have children, but also specifically for rainbow families.

The support provided by Fertility Benefits is particularly relevant for rainbow families in Germany, who often do not receive any financial support from their health insurance. Due to the legally complex situation, for example in the case of treatment abroad or stepchild adoptions, there is also an increased need for counselling. By integrating fertility benefits, companies can not only help to support and retain women and couples during a challenging time, but also consciously promote diversity.

The added value lies in the fact that rainbow families profit disproportionately from these benefits. By providing targeted support in all aspects of starting a family, companies not only contribute to creating an inclusive working environment, but also send a clear signal in favour of diversity and equality. Fertility benefits, as diversity benefits, are therefore not only a social contribution, but also a strategic step towards a diverse and inclusive corporate culture.

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