Title: Let the courts decide? Credit: Craig Young Comment Tuesday 29th June 2010 - 8:22am1277756520 Article: 8996 Rights
On both sides of the Tasman, the issue of LGBT-inclusive adoption reform has suddenly flared back into the spotlight. In New South Wales, Independent MP Clover Moore has introduced her second try at an inclusive adoption reform bill into the New South Wales State Parliament. NSW Premier Kristina Keneally has said that it will be a conscience vote, but added that personally, she supports inclusive reform, according to Same Same. If New South Wales does go ahead and vote for inclusion, that will raise the number of jurisdictions that have acted on the question of inclusive adoption reform across the Tasman to four- Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory already have fully inclusive adoption laws, while Tasmania has coparent adoption (which comprises most adoptions granted now, in any case). On this side of the Tasman, the High Court has unexpectedly raised the issue of how the Adoption Act is to be interpreted. Recently, it issued a decision that may have granted the right to adopt to de facto straight couples, raising questions about whether the same ruling might also include eligible same sex couples who want to exercise the same parental responsibilities. Under the Adoption Act 1955, only married straight couples, or individuals, can adopt children, which previously seemed to rule out straight de facto and lesbian and gay couples- even those in civil unions. However, the High Court has called all that into question, with a finding that 'spouses' should be interpreted to include those in a long-term straight, de facto committed relationship, regardless of marital status. The New Zealand Law Commission has already stated that same-sex couples should be included, and Kevin Hague (Green List MP) introduced a private members bill to that effect in a previous parliament. Justice Minister Simon Power has said that the Crown Law Office will prepare a report on the matter. Of course, if there is a subsequent decision in favour of a similarly durable same-sex couple, then it would remove the imperative to have to act at all. The Adoption Act could simply be allowed to become a moribund piece of legislation, rather like the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act is in the context of the abortion debate. Recommended: Clover Moore: Katie Chapman: "Adoption ruling: A Beacon of Hope" Dominion Post: 26.06.10: Craig Young - 29th June 2010    
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