The Andrews Labor Government will this week introduce a bill to remove discrimination against the children of same-sex couples from Victorian adoption laws. Currently, same-sex couples are not able to adopt in Victoria. This means many children already being raised by same-sex couples do not have the certainty of a clear legal connection to one or both parents.
Minister for Equality Martin Foley said the Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015 will remove discrimination against children of same-sex parents from the Adoption Act 1984. It will allow couples to adopt regardless of their sex or gender identity.
The Bill will also amend the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 so adoption providers cannot invoke religious exemptions to discriminate against same-sex couples. The Bill also implements recommendations made by Eamonn Moran QC in his Adoption Act Review.
“Equality is not negotiable for the Andrews Labor Government. I’m proud that we’re removing discrimination from the Adoption Act, which has been a black mark in Victoria’s equality record for a long time,” said Minister for Equality, Martin Foley.
“When this adoption bill becomes law, it will provide much-needed certainty for many children and their parents who currently live in a legal haze in terms of their relationships with the people they love.”
The Labor Government will also introduce the Relationships Amendment Bill 2015, which will enable more couples to have their relationships formally recognised under Victorian law. Relationships formalised under equivalent interstate and international laws, including same-sex marriages, will be automatically recognised as registered domestic relationships, without those parties being required to re-register their relationship in Victoria.
“While the Federal Liberal Government has refused to bring on a vote for marriage equality in the Federal Parliament, the Andrews Labor Government is moving to improve recognition for LGBTI couples in Victoria,” said Minister Foley.
“I have asked the LGBTI Taskforce and Justice Working Group to examine proposals for further reform of the Victorian Relationships Act in order to strengthen the rights of same-sex couples in this term of government.”
The changes will also mean only one partner in a domestic relationship will be required to live in Victoria in order for the relationship to be registered. Previously both partners were required to reside in the State. These amendments will enhance the rights of LGBTI couples in many situations, including when discussing a partner’s health information with a doctor in an emergency.
Image: Parliament of Victoria