Fears same-sex adoption is back on the state Government’s backburner have prompted renewed calls for faster action on reform.
When Southern Star contacted the office of Community Services Minister Lisa Neville last week, a spokeswoman confirmed that state and territory community services ministers met last week. The issue of adoption has again been deferred, however, unlikely to be discussed until early next year.
The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby outlined their concerns in a letter to Neville on September 4.
VGLRL spokesman Dr Anthony Bendall told Southern Star the Lobby wants more information on the progress of the national advisory working group on the matter and assurances that same-sex adoption is on the table.
“Some of these inter-jurisdictional committees get bogged down in things and don’t get progress as quickly as they should — that’s our concern,” he said.
The working group came out of a Community and Disability Services Ministerial Conference meeting in July 2008 to establish a consistent national approach to adoption laws, including same-sex adoption.
Since then, little has been heard, and according to Neville’s spokeswoman, terms of reference for the group are yet be laid down. “It requires all the states to review their adoption laws — it’s pretty big,” she said.
Bendall said changes are urgent for families who want to include a non-biological parent as parent to an existing child.
“To protect the rights of the child — the best way to do that often, is for the non-biological parent to adopt them. At the moment same-sex couples can’t do that under Victorian laws. In a heterosexual couple, you could.
“You’ve got increased standing if you are an adoptive parent, rather than just having an interest in the child.”
Bendall said delays mean the Government’s own Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is not being adhered to as long as the Adoption Act discriminates against same-sex couples.
“It doesn’t make any sense that same-sex couples can foster children, and not adopt — it’s just the final step.”
In 2007, the Victorian Law Reform Commission recommended the state’s Adoption Act be amended to allow the County Court to rule same-sex couples be allowed to adopt.

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