A NEW bill to allow same-sex parents to adopt children across Victoria was introduced in state parliament today.

The Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015, which was announced by state Equality Minister Martin Foley this morning before being introduced in Victorian Parliament in the afternoon, will remove discrimination against the children of same-sex parents from the Adoption Act 1984.

[showads ad=MREC]There are currently thousands of children being raised by same-sex couples in Victoria, some of whom are affected by not having a clear legal connection to one or both parents.

While adoption for LGBTI people has been legal in Victoria for some time, the current law only recognises one parent rather than both parents in a same-sex relationship. The current law also does not allow them to jointly adopt children.

The state’s Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen said that for many of these families, being able to legally adopt will make a big difference.

“For me it’s not about creating families, it’s about recognising the families we already have,” she told the Star Observer.

“It’s about vulnerable kids getting more security.”

If the bill is passed, Allen said many same-sex parents will be able to carry out simple tasks they previously would not have been able to.

“It allows parents to do basic things like sign school forms and approve emergency medical treatment, things that are needed,” she said.

The move follows NSW, Western Australia, Tasmania, and ACT, where adoption for same-sex couples has already been fully legislated.

The bill will also make changes to the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to ensure that adoption providers won’t be able to use religious exemptions to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Sean Mulcahy has welcomed the bill, highlighting how it would benefit the children living in a diverse range of families and situations.

“There are hundreds of children living in same-sex parented families across Victoria who currently have little or no legal certainty about their legal parentage,” he told the Star Observer.

“This long overdue reform will change that.”

Mulcahy also highlighted the importance of children being at the centre of the decision-making process.

“The reform will allow same-sex couples to apply to adopt along the exact same rigorous assessment procedures that exist for different-sex couples which takes into account the best interests of the child,” he said.

The introduction of the bill has been widely welcomed by community and legal groups, including Rainbow Families Council, which represents families within Victoria’s LGBTI community.

Rainbow Families Council co-convenor Amelia Bassett said the proposed changes would have the biggest impact on the children of same-sex parents.

“These adoption reforms will finally allow the law to catch up with the reality of their lives and ensure that the parents who love and nurture them are legally recognised,” she said.

“The impact these reforms will have on the day-to-day lives of these families can not be underestimated.”

The Victorian Government also introduced the Relationships Amendment Bill 2015, which will recognise relationships formalised interstate and overseas as registered domestic relationships, without those parties being required to re-register their relationship in Victoria.

The reform will also mean that only one partner will be required to live in Victoria, where currently both partners are required to reside in the state.

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