The Victorian Labor Party is unlikely pursue a legal challenge to the controversial Equal Opportunity Amendment Bill, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says.
Speaking to the Star Observer, Andrews all but ruled out a challenge to the legislation currently before Parliament, which will make it easier for religious organisations to discriminate against gay and lesbian people.
“I don’t think we’re in a position to be running challenges like that, but what I’m saying to you is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other groups in the community who may well have a look at this,” he said.
“Certainly the way the Act works will be an ongoing concern for many people.”
The bill is currently up for debate in the Upper House, and although the Victorian Greens have vowed to move amendments, it is expected to pass in its current form.
The bill was voted on twice by the Lower House after Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge missed the vote and the bill was defeated.
The Baillieu Government pushed the bill through again, defying parliamentary rules which state bills cannot be voted on more than once in a session of Parliament.
“I’m not into undermining the authority of the Parliament,” Andrews said. “This bill was voted down, it was lost and that should have been the end of it.”
Andrews confirmed his support for same-sex adoption, but said the party has no immediate plans to push for it.
Andrews said he was unsure if there was widespread community support to change the state ban on same-sex couple adoption and wants a national approach developed first before looking at state laws.
“I don’t think a person’s capacity to love a child and be a good parent is determined by their sexual orientation, ethnicity, their faith,” Andrews said.
“These things do not determine whether you can be a loving and effective and nurturing parent and there are examples of that right across Victoria. You need a national approach.”
Premier Ted Baillieu has previously said he doesn’t support same-sex adoption.
Andrews said the issue of same-sex adoption hadn’t been raised with him “at any great length”.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily a groundswell of support to make that change,” he said.
“What it will take for reform in these other areas, I don’t have the answer to that.
“There are no plans at this stage to be legislating in that area.”
Andrews reiterated his support for same-sex marriage and said he will vote in favour of changing Labor policy at the ALP National Conference in December.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before the Marriage Act is changed,” he said.
“I think denying one section of society access to marriage, access to that right, is unfair.”
Andrews said the issue was brought into “sharp focus” when one of his staff members had to head to the US to marry her longterm partner.
“They couldn’t [get married] in the country they live, where they pay taxes, where they make such an important contribution,” he said.
“They had to travel halfway around the world and that I think that brought home to me just how unfair these current arrangements are.”