AFTER lagging behind most other states in Australia, Queensland may soon become the next to allow same-sex couples to adopt following a review of state laws currently taking place.
Public submissions have been called for by state Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman in the review that is re-evaluating the former Bligh Labor government’s 2009 Adoption Act that excluded same-sex couples.
[showads ad=MREC]Despite legislation that introduced state-sanctioned civil unions in 2011, the former Bligh government decided against extending adoption rights to same-sex couples following a similar review into the laws in 2009.
Speaking after the introduction of civil union legislation, Bligh said her government had decided against allowing same-sex couples to adopt.
“This was considered by the government in August 2009 and it was decided this would not go ahead,” Bligh told Fairfax Media in 2011.
“The government has no plans to revisit this issue.”
However, Fentiman believes the time has come for another review.
“The operational review is looking at all facets of the Adoption Act and how it works,” she said.
“We want all Queenslanders with an interest in this area to get involved and give us their feedback.
“This review will provide opportunity to consider the implications of all current adoption eligibility criteria, including the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples.”
Currently, same-sex couples in Queensland are allowed to become foster parents and despite a “shelved” plan by the former Newman Liberal-National government to criminalise the practice in 2012, they can still access altruistic surrogacy.
Same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt in NSW, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT for several years, with Victoria currently in the process of changing their laws.
Meanwhile, South Australia is in the process of reviewing eligibility requirements to extend adoption rights to the LGBTI community.
Fentiman acknowledged that Queensland was increasingly looking alone in state-sanctioned discrimination over adoption laws.
“Queensland is out of step with contemporary standards and the approaches in most other Australian states and territories,” she said.
“It is time that Queensland joined this conversation and considered the need to remove this discrimination from our adoption laws.”
The review in adoption laws comes as the Palaszczuk Labor government reintroduced legislation to restore civil unions and state-sanctioned ceremonies that were stripped back by the former LNP government in 2012.
A discussion paper on the Adoption Act has been released and is open for public submissions, along with an online survey.
To make a contribution to the review, visit https://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi/consultation/2700/view.html
Submissions close March 2016 and legislation may be introduced soon after.[showads ad=FOOT]