Victorian activists plan to make same-sex adoption an election issue in the lead-up to the state poll.

With NSW expected to vote in favour of same-sex adoption in August, Rainbow Families Council convenor Felicity Marlowe said a Victorian campaign would be ramped up in the coming weeks.

“Adoption is the main thing we’re campaigning on during the election, but it’s not just adoption, we want the remaining recommendations in the Law Reform Commission report to be implemented,” she told Southern Star.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission recommended same-sex adoption in its 2002 Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption report.

The Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) Bill passed in 2008 as a result of that report.

While allowing lesbians access to IVF and the inclusion of non-biological lesbian mothers on birth certificates was seen as a significant step forward, same-sex adoption failed to gain traction in the suite of reforms.

The Rainbow Families Council will talk to its membership and other rainbow family organisations including Gay Dads Victoria before structuring a campaign.

Marlowe said it was likely the campaign would also push for more inclusive policies and practices for diverse families in the early childhood development sector.

Rainbow Families Council member and gay dad Rodney Chiang-Cruise said allowing known parent adoption for same-sex couples would have a huge impact on gay dads, often left in legal limbo.

“If we look at what our ultimate aim is, it is to be recognised as legal parents and the best way to do that is known or second-parent adoption,” he said.

“That would make a huge practical difference and a very important symbolic difference to those children on a day-to-day basis.”

Chiang-Cruise said the issue for gay surrogate fathers was complicated as they are in the difficult legal position of only being classified as donors to their children.

“There was a sense that gay dads got nothing out of [the ART reforms], but there was little to offer us in a sense, because lesbians were coming from a position of carrying the child which makes her a mother, whereas gay men are always donors, whether they have a child through surrogacy or they co-parent,” he said.

“The real issue for surrogate dads comes down to getting something better than a parenting order or a consent order from the Family Court which gives you parenting rights, but doesn’t make you technically a parent.”

The Rainbow Families Council is seeking help from the Public Interest Law Clearing House to prepare a research paper on the current legal standing of gay parents.

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