VICTORIAN Labor have voted in favour of a platform including a range of LGBTI-related reforms at the state conference over the weekend, including legalising same-sex adoption in Victoria.
Delegates also voted to endorse reform to documentation laws to allow greater recognition for trans* and intersex Victorians, rolling the Safe Schools Coalition out to all Victorian public schools, and dedicated housing assistance for LGBTI people at risk of homelessness, among other issues.
Victorian Labor spokesperson on LGBTI equality Martin Foley argued the newly-endorsed position on same-sex adoption was a highlight of the platform and supported unanimously.
“It will at last place the hundreds of families and potentially thousands of children and their loving families currently operating in a grey nether land of legal uncertainty and discrimination in a position where we might not only catch up with other parts of Australia but even take the lead on the issue,” Foley told the Star Observer.
Children living under permanent care orders, in step-parent families, in foster families, and children born through international surrogacy arrangements, are some of those living with same-sex parents who would would benefit from the proposed reforms.
Rainbow Families Council applauded the new platform, but also highlighted the current legal differences between the states on adoption law.
“There are currently children living in Victoria who are being discriminated in purely because of the state or territory their family lives in. This has got to end,” a spokesperson told the Star Observer.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Corey Irlam was encouraged by the platform’s engagement with LGBTI issues and inclusiveness.
“From schools to older people, to families and singles, should the ALP get in we look forward to an improved suite of outcomes for LGBTI Victorians,” Irlam told the Star Observer.
“The new adoption policy by the ALP will strengthen Victorian families and is worthy of multipartisan support from all political parties. It recognises that it’s unfair to treat some children differently than others.”
Prahran state Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown said he was currently investigating the issue of same-sex adoption in Victoria.
He told the Star Observer that while he personally supported reform in the area, further research was required before the state Coalition Government could look at developing a position on the issue.
“This year I have been working with a Monash University intern to prepare a paper on the issue of same sex adoption and in particular the interests of children in ‘rainbow’ families,” Newton-Brown said.
“Personally, I believe that there are compelling arguments to support same sex adoption as being in the interests of children in many scenarios such as those in long term foster care and those conceived through surrogates.
“It is a complex issue and once this paper is prepared I will be in a better position to talk more broadly as well as amongst government members on the issue. I have been consulting widely and welcome further feedback in coming months.”
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine flagged in a press conference he is open to legal reform on same-sex adoption.
Legal disparity between the states on adoption was highlighted earlier this month when the Federal Government announced an intercountry adoption agreement with South Africa. Although it is the first such agreement to include same-sex couples, many could still face legal barriers at the level of state and territory law.