Green MP Metiria Turei's private member's bill aiming to legalise adoption by same-sex couples has been taken out of the parliamentary ballot, Prime Minister Helen Clark advised tonight. PM Helen Clark with Labour MP Charles Chauvel tonight Speaking at the Gay Auckland Business Association's AGM, Clark said the 'Adoption (Equity) Amendment Bill' had been removed, adding that adoption by gay couples was "a tough issue to tackle, which we must get to at some point." Turei's bill was submitted to Parliament two years ago. Under current law, single people - including gays and lesbians - can adopt, but same-sex or unmarried couples cannot. The Prime Minister appeared well-briefed on a range of issues affecting New Zealand's LGBT communities as she addressed the over 100-strong GABA meeting tonight. Labour's Associate Justice Spokesperson Lianne Dalziel is taking action after the Human Rights Commission's inquiry into the lives of transgender New Zealanders, and her recommendation papers are now before Parliament, Clark said. New Zealand's Police and defence forces, and Customs Department are taking "significant steps to tackle homophobia", and homophobic bullying in school is also being addressed, she confirmed. Describing Civil Union legislation as a major move forward for LGBT New Zealanders, Clark recognised that full marriage may be preferable, noting that some countries are moving toward this. She told the crowd, however: "We had a difficult time over Civil Unions, so we're taking a breather on that one." Taking questions later, she offered to "have a word" in Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's ear about supporting gay marriage, when the two leaders meet for lengthy discussions in coming weeks. The partial defence of provocation law - the so-called 'Gay Panic Defence' which can allow violent offenders to get a lighter sentence due to the victim's 'homosexual advances' - is on the law reform agenda, and Rainbow Wellington's concerns about discrimination against gay men in health insurance applications will be voiced in an upcoming forum, Clark revealed. She also said she hopes the issue of blood donations from gay men into NZ's Blood Service will continue to be talked about and debated. The GABA crowd reacted warmly to Clark's speech, with several of her comments attracting applause and one audience member commending her on "showing a commitment to our community". The PM summed up: "I'm in politics for a kinder, fairer, more inclusive society. Legal changes like Homosexual Law Reform and Civil Unions don't trigger an instant change of attitude in all people, but over time, they serve to normalise things. "Mainstream New Zealand will move with the times - but you need that legal framework."
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 2nd July 2008 - 10:54pm
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