Equality needed to protect children in rainbow families, say community and rights groups to Adoption review

Many children will benefit from removing discrimination in adoption laws, the independent review of Victoria’s adoption laws has been told in submissions lodged by community groups this week.

Amelia Bassett, the Co-Convener of the Rainbow Families Council, said that rainbow families around Victoria were pleased to see that adoption equality was one step closer.

"There are hundreds of children living in rainbow families across Victoria who will positively benefit from this important reform. We should focus on a couple's ability to provide a loving and stable family environment, rather than their sexuality,” said Ms Bassett.

The review is being conducted by Eamonn Moran PSM QC, former Chief Parliamentary Counsel and a current Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission, who was tasked with examining the best ways to legislate for adoption equality – not whether it should occur – and is due to report to the Minister for Equality Martin Foley by 8 May 2015.

The Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby called on all members of parliament to consider the outcomes of the report, meet with constituents in same-sex families and assess the legislation on its merits.

"We are very pleased to be discussing how this should be done, rather than whether it should be done.  The good news is we found that the changes required to the Adoption Act are fairly straightforward, so we can be confident this reform can move forward without delay,” said Sean Mulcahy, VGLRL Co-Convener.

In 2007 the Victorian Law Reform Commission recommended the laws be changed to allow same-sex adoption. If passed, the law would finally enact the recommendations of the VLRC, bring Victoria into line with Tasmania, Western Australia, the ACT and NSW and comply with the principles of non-discrimination and equality enshrined in Victoria’s Charter of Rights.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s submission focused on the need for equality in adoption laws to avoid the legal uncertainty and practical difficulties currently faced by rainbow families.

“There are children living with same-sex parents that aren’t able to formalize that relationship through adoption, which causes a great deal of uncertainty. For example, when the child turns 18 they no longer have any legal relationship with the person that raised them, which has flow on effects to wills and inheritance and a range of other situations,” said Ms Brown, the Centre’s Director of Advocacy & Strategic Litigation.

“Over 40 years of international and Australian research demonstrates that children in same-sex parented families do just as well, if not better, as their counterparts in heterosexual parented families,” added Ms Brown.

The Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, Rainbow Families Council and Human Rights Law Centre call on the Coalition to join the Government in its commitment to equality and look forward to working with all sides of politics to ensure the swift passage of legislation.

Click here for a copy of the HRLC submission.
Click here for a copy of the VGLRL submission

For further information or comments, please contact:
Amelia Bassett, Rainbow Families Council Co-Convenor, 0423 500 744
Sean Mulcahy, Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby Co-Convenor 0400 566 844
Anna Brown, HRLC Director of Advocacy & Strategic Litigation, 0422 235 522

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