It may have taken them a year to figure out the obvious, but this is progress nevertheless:
SAME-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children, a year-long parliamentary committee has found. Delivering its findings to Parliament yesterday, the Social Development Committee’s inquiry into same-sex parenting recommended changes to existing law to remove discrimination against same-sex parents.
Presiding member Ian Hunter said that after months of hearing evidence from community groups and individuals, the committee had concluded that the law needed to change so that same-sex couples and their children were not treated as “second-class citizens”. “The committee heard no persuasive evidence that children are disadvantaged by being raised by same-sex parents,” Mr Hunter said in the report. “It did … hear ample evidence from a significant number of same-sex couples whose lives, and that of their children, have been and continue to be adversely affected by current South Australian legislation. “Removing existing legislative discrimination is an important step in creating an environment that fosters greater community acceptance for children of same-sex parents.”
The committee comprises three Labor members, two Liberals, two independents and Family First MLC Dennis Hood, who dissented from the committee. “I do not support same-sex parenting and oppose any legislation allowing the practice in South Australia,” Mr Hood said. Mr Hunter said that many people had expressed concern to the committee that South Australia was falling behind other Australian states on social issues. “The committee was repeatedly told that South Australia, once considered a socially progressive state, now lags well behind other jurisdictions in the area of social reform,” he said.
The committee has recommended:
LEGAL parentage rights for non-birth mothers of children borne to women who have undergone fertilisation treatments.
ACCESS to reproductive technology for lesbian and single women “unlikely to become pregnant other than by use of assisted reproductive treatment”.
ACCESS to screening and counselling services for women wanting to self-inseminate.
ADOPTION rights for same-sex couples subject to same criteria as opposite-sex couples.
A CAMPAIGN to ensure agencies are aware same-sex couples are eligible to foster care children and treated in non-discriminatory manner.
ACCESS to altruistic gestational surrogacy for same-sex couples.
AN EDUCATION campaign to raise awareness of the rights of same-sex parents and those affected by any legislative changes.
Mr Hunter said if the Government did not adopt the proposed recommendations, they could still be introduced as private members’ bills. Same sex parenting campaigner Let’s Get Equal spokeswoman Terri Mitchell-Smith said she was “very pleased” with the committee’s findings. “We are very thankful that the Committee has understood this human issue and we look forward to the Government implementing the recommendations.” Ms Mitchell Smith said she believed that the proposed changes had “wide community support.”
“It is about the children’s rights – they require as much protection and legal rights as any other child.”