LGBTI rights advocates have welcomed the passage of the the Adoption Amendment Bill in Victorian Parliament’s lower house last night after a lengthy debate that a saw a number of MPs express their thoughts on adoption equality.

The bill passed with 54 MPs voting in favour of the amendments and 26 voting against them, with seven additional abstentions.

Within the Coalition, zero MPs from the Liberal Party voted in support of the reform while six of the eight National MPs voted in favour.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said he was pleased with the majority of MPs who voted in favour of it.

“We are delighted that the Adoption Amendment Bill has passed the Legislative Assembly by an overwhelming margin and with support from a diverse range of MPs, including many from regional Victoria,” he told the Star Observer.

“The MPs who supported this bill came from all sides of politics except, unfortunately, the Liberal Party.

“Disappointingly, not one Liberal MP voted for this reform in the Legislative Assembly, not even Opposition Leader Matthew Guy who had told the media he supports adoption equality.”

The Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015 was tabled earlier this month to allow same-sex parents in Victoria to jointly adopt children.

It also proposed amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to remove religious exemptions that allow adoption providers to discriminate on religious grounds.

During the debate in parliament, Euroa state Nationals MP Steph Ryan expressed that while she was in support of adoption equality, the Coalition also supported religious exemptions in the Equal Opportunity Act and did not support that being amended.

“It is the view of the Coalition that religious views be respected,” she said.

Prahran state Greens MP Sam Hibbins said when it came to support services, no-one should be discriminated.

“There should be no wrong door when it comes to any service offered in Victoria,” he said.

However, the majority of faith-based adoption providers are in support of adoption equality.

Mulcahy said the amendments would have a huge impact on rainbow families around Victoria.

“This reform will benefit hundreds of Victorian children and will remove the last piece of legislation that discriminates against same-sex or gender diverse couples and their families,” he told the Star Observer.

“We believe that the taxpayer dollars should not fund discrimination in public services and that religious freedom does not extend to allowing discrimination in public services.

“We are pleased that the majority of faith-based adoption providers and people of Catholic faith support adoption equality.”

The bill still needs to pass the Legislative Council, or upper house, before it becomes law. It is expected to be debated again as early as November 10, when the upper house sits next.

At the moment, NSW, Tasmania, WA and the ACT are the only jurisdictions where adoption rights for same-sex couples has been fully legislated.

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