Banning same-sex couples from overseas adoption is back on the federal government’s agenda, with proposed legislation due to appear in parliament.
The impending reintroduction of an adoption ban was revealed this week on the website of Tasmanian gay activist Rodney Croome, who said he was tipped off by a parliamentary staffer.
The source said the proposed Family Law (Same Sex Adoption) Bill would amend the Family Law Act to indicate that adoptions by same-sex couples of children from overseas -¦ will not be recognised in Australia.
The staffer said the bill would be introduced in the spring session of parliament and that the community should begin lobbying coalition members to prevent it.
A spokesperson for attorney-general Philip Ruddock confirmed the bill was on the agenda but told Sydney Star Observer it was hard to say when it would be tabled in parliament as there were other bills ahead of it in the queue. He thought it might not make it this session.
While details of the bill were yet to be released, Croome said it was no surprise the ban was on the cards once more.
The government has already introduced the relevant legislation and has repeatedly committed to it, he said, referring to the coalition’s previous attempt to ban overseas adoption in mid-2004.
In that instance the adoption bill was attached to the gay marriage ban bill. Labor joined the Greens and Democrats to block the adoption amendments, which led to Ruddock splitting the bill in two and the marriage ban passed with Labor’s support.
When the Howard government was re-elected in October 2004 with a majority in the senate, Ruddock vowed to reintroduce the bill.
Croome believed the new bill would be timed to rally support from conservative voters before next year’s election. The government needs another bone to throw to the religious right, he said.
Labor has refused to state its position on the new bill until more information was available.
A spokesperson for shadow attorney-general Nicola Roxon told the Star Labor would wait to see the proposed legislation before forming a view on it.
We note, however, that adoptions are regulated by state, not federal law, the spokesperson said. Labor would certainly need to see why the federal government thinks it should pass laws in this area.
At present only WA and the ACT have passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt, with the NSW government currently investigating legislative change.
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor David Scamell said there were areas where the federal government could intervene in adoption, such as in family law and immigration.
Some gay and lesbian couples manage to adopt when one of the partners claims to be single, Scamell said, which results in only that person being legally recognised as a parent.
As with all legislation regarding same-sex parenting, it’s not preventing more and more gay and lesbian people from having children, Scamell said.
The attorney-general explained why the government wanted to ban overseas adoption in a statement to the Star in June 2004.
The government does not wish to leave itself exposed to a situation where a state or territory, for the purposes of making a political point domestically, would seek to prioritise same-sex couples ahead of heterosexual couples for the purposes of overseas adoption, Ruddock said.
We don’t believe that would be in Australia’s best interests or the best interests of the child.
He said the government believed it was best for children to have the care and affection of both a mother and a father.
In view of the shortage of children available for adoption, the Australian government believes it is not simply a matter of leaving it to the states -“ who have no responsibility relating to immigration -“ to determine which children, and with which parents, will be able to enter Australia under our immigration arrangements.