The NSW Government has promised a parliamentary inquiry into legalising same-sex adoption after making changes to speed up the approval process for heterosexuals.

The issue of same-sex adoption was not included in the amendments, however, it was agreed the issue would be referred to the Law and Justice Committee, a spokesman for Community Services Minister Linda Burney said. We look forward to the committee’s findings and when the report is due we’ll look at the issue.

The inquiry will hold hearings early in 2009 to coincide with a separate ongoing inquiry into altruistic surrogacy.

This comes more than 10 years after the NSW Law Reform Commission recommended the current ban against same-sex couples be dropped, and more than two years since another review by the Department of Community Services was handed to the Government.

Attempts by Sydney Star Observer to obtain the 2006 DOCS report through freedom of information laws were unsuccessful as it contained recommendations. It is still not confirmed that the report recommended legalising same-sex adoption.

Stranger adoptions are uncommon due to the low number of Australian children available -” around 20 per year. Countries allowing overseas adoptions generally do not use same-sex couples.

Most cases where same-sex adoption would apply are in existing foster arrangements with a gay couple.

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby strongly supported the inquiry into the last piece of NSW law that still discriminates against same-sex couples.

NSW is in the ludicrous position of allowing individual lesbians and gay men to be assessed for adoption eligibility, but not same-sex couples. This discrimination hurts children by denying legal and social recognition to lesbian and gay parents, Lobby spokesman Peter Johnson said.

Adoption reform is essential for long-term foster carers, some step-parents and co-parents. Adoption would give children the economic and emotional stability which comes with the recognition of their families.

This year co-mothers were given the right to legally adopt the biological children of their partner if they participated in the artificial conception process. But co-fathers were not included.

The inquiry into altruistic surrogacy laws heard in October gay men have
been seeking commercial surrogacy options in the US due to a lack of parenting options in Australia. That inquiry is not expected to report until the second half of 2009. Liberal powerbroker David Clarke is on both inquiries.

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