Queensland's parliament has amended the state's Adoption Act to include same-sex couples, after debating the issue in parliament Wednesday night. The changes will also allow single people and people undergoing fertility treatment to adopt children for the first time.
The amendments mean that South Australia and the Northern Territory are now the only Australian states that still restrict same-sex couples from adopting children. Introducing the bill, Queensland Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said that the government was proud to overturn what it viewed as "discriminatory laws".
"While Queensland will not be the first to break down this barrier, I am determined that we will not be the last. We as a society do not tolerate discrimination," she told parliament, citing the advice of Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner and Australia's Human Rights Commissioner.
"For too long Queensland's LGBTI community has been barred from even considering meeting the needs of a child through adoption as an option."
Referring to reports from the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Fentiman argued that same-sex adoption posed no threat to the welfare of children.
"Meeting the best interests, needs, and wellbeing of a child is not dependent on whether a child has parents who are of the same gender, opposite gender, or even whether they are raised by a single parent," she said. "In fact, there is clear evidence that regardless of the gender and sexuality of a child's parents, it is positive relationships and a supportive, nurturing and loving home that provides the best outcomes for children."
The bill was opposed by the Liberal National Party and Katter's Australia Party. Liberal National Party Child Safety Spokeswoman Ros Bates was highly critical, saying it contained "a number of unresolved issues as a result of being rushed through parliament."
"The government has not demonstrated the need to expand or grow the number of eligible adoptive parents based on very limited numbers of children needing adoption in Queensland each year," she said.
"Any expansion of the right to adopt to single people and same-sex couples will do nothing but create an unrealistic expectation amongst those Queenslanders that they will have an easy access to adoption."
Queensland's Deputy Premier Jackie Trad expressed distaste for those opposing the bill, calling the Liberal National Party "Disgraceful. Bigots."
After Liberal National Party MP Trevor Watts raised a point of order with the Speaker, she was forced to withdraw her comment. The government passed the law with the support of two Independent MPs.
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