Today new adoption equality laws came into effect in South Australia allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in the state. South Australian law previously restricted adoption to married or de facto heterosexual couples.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy, Anna Brown, welcomed the changes to adoption laws.
“With all the attention on marriage equality it’s easy to forget that LGBTIQ South Australians face inequality and discrimination in other areas of law that have a very real impact on their everyday lives,” said Ms Brown.
Same-sex couples can now jointly adopt children across Australia in every state and territory except the Northern Territory.
“South Australia joins almost every other state and territory in Australia in recognising that what matters most is that children grow up in loving, stable homes - regardless of the gender of the people who care for them” said Ms Brown.
The changes have been welcomed by local LGBTIQ advocate Andrew Birtwistle-Smith, Chair of the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance.
“Adoption equality is an advance for LGBTIQ couples and families in South Australia that is long overdue,” said Mr Birtwistle-Smith.
The push for adoption equality in South Australia started with dads Blue and Shaun Douglas-Galley who adopted their sons in the UK but cannot legally adopt in SA. Shaun and Blue made a campaign video and sent MPs a petition with more than 15,000 signatures.
South Australians James Speechley, his partner Shane and his mother Margaret were present with other LGBTIQ community members at Parliament House when the adoption bill was voted on.
“My partner Shane and I have been in a relationship for many years. We can offer a secure, financially stable, loving and nurturing home for children. Ultimately, its love that makes a family and our sexuality is irrelevant,’ said Mr Speechley.
A very small handful of children are adopted in South Australia every year. Same-sex couples in South Australia are already raising children in foster care and permanent care but, unlike heterosexual couples, are unable to adopt children even where this would be in the child’s best interests.
“These changes will benefit children already being raised by loving same-sex couples by giving them access to the emotional and legal security that comes with adoption,” said Ms Brown.
“With the South Australian Premier’s apology and the passage of this package of reforms through parliament, we’ve seen discrimination removed from the statute books and a welcome affirmation of the dignity and validity of our relationships, families and very existence,” said Ms Brown.
In related news, the South Australian lower house passed amendments to the Statutes Amendment (Surrogacy Eligibility) Bill 2016 on Wednesday that would allow same-sex couples to have children using assisted reproductive treatment (IVF) and altruistic surrogacy.
The is the last of four pieces of LGBTIQ legal reform to be passed by South Australian Parliament. Together the four laws remove discrimination in relationship recognition, family formation and adoption; remove discriminatory barriers for trans people accessing birth certificates and introduce protections against discrimination for intersex people.