On Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Premier Nathan Rees had broached a deal with the Reverend Fred Nile to put gay adoption on the backburner in order to secure votes in the upper house.
If true, this is disappointing, to say the least. As a touted member of the ALP’s Left faction, and as a leader who came to power promising change, in this latest move Rees has shown he is willing to depart from ALP core values of fairness, decency, equality and putting people first, in exchange for Nile’s breadcrumbs.
Over the last decade, NSW hasn’t done too badly in terms of same-sex law reform. In 1999, the NSW Government led the way for same-sex equality across the nation by introducing the nation’s first de facto equality laws. In 2003, it equalised the age of consent for gay men -” from 18 years to 16 years.Â And in June last year, under Morris Iemma, it recognised lesbian co-mothers as legal parents.
The one piece of legislation that stands in the way of same-sex couples and their families is adoption.Â It is a tad ironic that the first Left faction Premier NSW has had in years is the one premier who is standing in the way of reform.
On being sworn in on September 5 2008, Rees said, On occasions, the administration has let you down. You are right to feel frustrated, you are right to feel annoyed, you are right to feel disappointed. On occasions, you are right to feel angry. On that basis I say this to you: we need real change and that real change starts today.
If Rees scuttles gay adoption for political gain he will indeed have brought a change to NSW -” not only will he have reversed the path to full equality, but more worryingly, he will have shown he is willing to be Nile’s puppet.
The adoption inquiry has already occurred. The report is ready to go.Â The only thing standing in the way of reform is Rees’ backbone.Â Stand up, Rees, and have the courage to put equality over politics.
Emily Gray is the co-convenor
of the NSW Gay and Lesbian