Same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt, a NSW inquiry has recommended to the state government.

The Adoption Act should be amended to allow same-sex couples the right to adopt, the NSW Law and Justice Committee has found in a narrow split of three to four votes.

The final report, released to the public on Wednesday, made further recommendations that faith-based adoption agencies be granted exemptions from directly assisting same-sex couples, though they should be required to refer couples onto an agency that could.

Committee chair Christine Robertson, who cast the deciding vote, acknowledged the issue had been a divisive one.
This inquiry was challenging as it encompassed not only legal issues concerning the rights of children and those of adults with respect to anti-discrimination, but also moral and belief-based views about the best interests of children and the role of the family, she said.

The committee has concluded that reform to allow same-sex couples to adopt will help to ensure that the best interests of children are met by our adoption laws. It will do so by enabling legal recognition for existing parent-child relationships, by broadening the pool of applicants from which the most appropriate parents are selected.

The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby welcomed the recommendations and called on the Rees Government to act promptly once it reconvenes in September.

We are delighted that the majority of the committee accepted our argument that each individual should be assessed on their capacity to provide a safe and loving home to a child, not on their sexual orientation, GLRL co-convenor Emily Gray said.

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