Same-sex adoption laws passed in Qld

SAME-SEX couples, singles and couples undergoing fertility treatment will now be able to adopt a child in Queensland after new laws were passed.

The Palaszczuk Government passed the Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 on Wednesday night with the help of the three independent MPs.

The LNP and Katter's Australian Party opposed expanding the adoption criteria to include same-sex couples and single people.

LNP's communities spokeswoman Ros Bates argued the expanded criteria was not needed.
 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

"Prospective parents are waiting years to adopt children after getting on the waiting list, meaning there aren't enough children seeking adoption to warrant a relaxation," she said.

"At last count there were 22 local adoptions in 2015-16, nine local and 13 step-parents.

"There is no demand so there's no need to expand the eligibility. And it's also unfair to build unrealistic expectations of any Queenslander wishing to adopt."

But the Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman said it was not a matter of supply and demand.

"It is a matter of fairness, it's a matter of removing unfair discrimination from the Queensland statute books," she said.

The changes put Queensland in line with most other states and territories - except South Australia and the Northern Territory.

"Discriminatory barriers that prevent LGBTI Queenslanders from being able to adopt a child have no place in our community or in our laws," Ms Fentiman said in a statement.

"I am so proud Queensland has tonight voted to join other Australian states and territories to remove this archaic chapter from our adoption laws.

"It is only fair members of our LGBTI community have the same rights as any other Queenslander, and that includes the right to raise a family with an adopted child.

"Our community does not tolerate this type of discrimination. It is only right that our Parliament has tonight ensured that it also has no place in our law books."

Ms Fentiman said the new laws were passed despite the LNP voting against them.

"The LNP revealed it is behind the times by voting against these laws at every hurdle," she said. "Despite that, these laws were successfully passed."

The change to the law follows a statutory review of the state's Adoption Act 2009, which asked community members to share their experience of adoption and make recommendations about how the process can be improved.

Ms Fentiman said more than 350 Queenslanders and organisations responded, with the vast majority supportive of the removal of barriers preventing same-sex couples, single people and couples undergoing fertility treatment, from adopting.

"These reforms bring Queensland into line with New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania," Ms Fentiman said.

"These new laws will ensure our legislation is contemporary and reflects the needs and experiences of children requiring adoption in Queensland, now and into the future."

Ms Fentiman said adoption provides a permanent family and legal identity for a small number of children in Queensland who cannot live with their birth family.

Ms Fentiman said the reforms will also remove the offence and penalty for a breach of contact statement for adoptions prior to June 1991, facilitate face-to-face contact during interim adoption orders between an adoptee and their birth family, improve access to information and streamline the step-parent application process.

"Offence provisions are associated with past practices that are no longer appropriate," Ms Fentiman said.

"The removal of these provisions will further honour the apology given by Parliament to Queenslanders who were affected by past forced adoption practices."

Ms Fentiman said the new law will also improve access to information by an adoptee, birth parents or an adult relative.

"This recognises the difficulties in tracing family members who have lost contact with the department, and the importance to people over generations to gain this information in order to both preserve their family history and their own personal story," she said.



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