NSW govt decides not to act on same-sex couple adoption

The last fortnight has seen the NSW Government’s response to final report of the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice Inquiry on adoption by same-sex couples, to which I made a submission. While I received the Government’s response in the post this week, it hasn’t yet appeared on the Inquiry’s webpage.

In its response to the report through a letter from Linda Burney, the government has decided “…to continue to listen to the views of the wider community before deciding upon a final policy position”. That is, it’s not going to act. There’s probably little chance of action before the next NSW state election, due in March 2011. Strangely enough, the letter concludes on that note after noting that gay single people can currently adopt.

I disagree with the government’s response. As it acknowledges in the Minister’s letter, gay single people can currently adopt in NSW – so why can’t gay couples?

Unsurprisingly, the media has reported the government’s decision: stories in the Sydney Star Observer, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. I wrote on the Sydney Star Observer’s website:

I received the Government’s response to the Legislative Council Committee’s report in the mail this week.

It makes no sense for gay individuals to be able to adopt but gay couples not. The justification in the Minister’s letter is clear but weak:

“The Government notes the existence of strong divisions in the community on this issue. This polarisation of views among community groups and individuals has been reflected within the Committee, which failed to achieve a consensus position on the need for law reform in this area.”

“It is acknowledged that the issue of same-sex adoptions has been considered by a number of expert committees both within NSW and in other Australian jurisdictions. Mostly, these have made recommendations in favour of allowing same-sex couples to adopt. The NSW Government has noted that in NSW currrently a single gay person is legally able to adopt although a gay couple cannot.”

There have been many reforms made in State and Commonwealth Parliaments over the years on which there were strong divisions in the community (e.g. tariff reductions and competition policy). Why is this different?

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