There is no reason same-sex couples should not be able to adopt, according to a new report by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute released this week.

Adoption laws that exclude same-sex couples from eligibility for adoption are premised on the assumption that heterosexual marriage is both normal and the ideal family structure. However, modern trends are for children to be raised in a number of diverse family forms, the report concluded.

The report was welcomed by Rodney Croome of the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, who said it demonstrated the Bacon government’s commitment to removing discrimination.

It turns the argument that same-sex parenting is disadvantageous on its head. It renders an acrimonious, divisive debate irrelevant. This report says what we have said all along -“ that if you value the rights and well-being of children, you will support adoption reform, Croome said.

The report concluded that the best interest of the child, not a prospective parent’s sexual orientation, should be the main factor in determining potential adoptions.

According to the report the current laws already disadvantage children who live with same-sex couples.

It is in the best interests of children -¦ to be given the financial, legal and emotional security provided by having two fully sanctioned and legally defined parents, the report noted.

Children living with gay parents are also subjected to bullying and harassment.

[This] demonstrates the need for attitudinal change to counter prejudice and stigma [and] supports the claim that laws which discriminate against same-sex couples discriminate against their children.

The report also addresses donor insemination. It recommends a reform that will -“ with their consent -“ make the same-sex partners of women who conceive through donor insemination presumptive, or assumed, parents.

There are 130 laws in Tasmania that discriminate against gay men and lesbians: the government is currently assembling a relationships law package to rectify this. The report was commissioned by the attorney-general, and put together by Kate Warner at the Tasmanian Faculty of Law.

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