Last week, legislation was introduced to the Victorian Parliament that would allow same-sex couples to adopt children together.
Victoria’s Equality Minister, Martin Foley, promised during his campaign that adoption equality was one of his priorities, and he has begun to fulfill that commitment. Earlier this year, Foley called for a review of the process to creating said legislation. With the results in, the legislation has been created and put before the Parliament for discussion and voting.
As of now, adoption laws in Victoria only permit heterosexual couples who have been together for over two years to jointly adopt a child. Currently, same-sex couples can foster children and be recognized as their legal guardians, but that guardianship lapses when the child turns 18, which can cause problems. The new law, if passed, will make two major changes: Non-biological parents will be able to be recognized as legal parents, and adoption services will be forbidden from discriminating against prospective parents because of their sexual orientation.
During the news coverage of the original review, Foley made it clear that he would not permit faith-based exemptions to the non-discrimination portion of the legislation. Acting for the benefit of religious adoption institutions such as Catholic Care, the Australian Christian Lobby had requested exemptions so that they could “act in good faith meeting the best interests of the children.” Fortunately, Foley stood strong against the request, calling it just another form of discrimination. He has continued to uphold that commitment, and will hopefully do so throughout the legal process.
Foley’s dedication to improving adoption equality has been promising. He continues to justify his actions by calling attention to the needs of families, saying that “it’s love that defines a family, not sexuality or gender identity.”
It continues to be in the best interests of families that parents have secure legal guardianship of their children, and this legislation is a very positive step for LGBT families. Many children whose legal status has been unclear will find security, and future same-sex couples will have fewer difficulties in growing their families via adoption. Although some members of both the Labour Party, of which Foley is a part, and the Opposition disagree with the bill, I hope that the future holds adoption equality for Australia, and that the LGBT community there continues to gain the rights they deserve.