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May12

Adoption green light raises questions about marriage

CREATED ON // Monday, 12 May 2014 Written by // Rodney Croome

Congratulations to the Abbott Government for giving the green light to same-sex adoption.

Last week, it announced a new adoption protocol with South Africa, a country where same-sex adoption is legal.

The Prime Minister’s office subsequently confirmed the new protocol will allow Australian same-sex couples to adopt from South Africa.

There remain concerns about what might happen if an Australian faith-based adoption agency, not covered by anti-discrimination law, manages South African adoptions.

But that shouldn’t diminish the importance of what has happened.

Ten years ago the Howard Government proposed a legislative ban on overseas same-sex adoption, at the same time as it amended the Marriage Act to prevent same-sex nuptials.

Fortunately, the overseas adoption ban was never passed, but it was vehemently supported by leading figures in the Liberal Party.

Now, a government said to be even more socially conservative, is not just not banning same-sex adoptions, it’s approving them.

Kudos to the government for putting the needs of disadvantaged South African children ahead of prejudice.

Bigger kudos still to the Australian people for moving so far in such a short time that same-sex adoption is no longer much of an issue.

As laudable as the South African decision is in terms of equality in adoption it raises some uncomfortable questions for the government regarding equality in marriage.

In South Africa same-sex couples can marry, giving their children the sense of affirmation and security that can come from having married parents.

Is it fair on South African children adopted by Australian same-sex couples not to have the same opportunity?

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Groups like the Australian Christian Lobby have based their case against marriage equality on the alleged need of all children for a father and a mother.

Has the Federal Government now repudiated this flawed view, and if so, on what basis can it still oppose marriage equality?

The Federal Government has effectively said it is okay with same-sex couples having families.  

So why is it not okay with these couples making the legal vows that, in the eyes of many people, give families a more solid foundation and tie them more closely together?

Now the Federal Government allows same-sex adoption the right thing to do is allow same-sex marriages as well.

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Rodney Croome

Rodney Croome

Rodney Croome is the Campaign Co-ordinator of the Tasmanian gay and Lesbian Rights Group and the National Convener of Australian Marriage Equality. Visit his blog at rodneycroome.id.au.

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