Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Sunday Times - "GAY COUPLE TO ADOPT: Two WA men approved as parents" by Trevor Paddenburg

A GAY couple have been approved to adopt a child – a WA first under liberalised laws that came into force in 2002.
The application, by a male couple, has been approved by the Department for Community Development.

The historic laws allow same-sex couples to adopt children if they can convince authorities they would make suitable parents – the same criteria for heterosexual couples.

The gay partners are among 118 WA couples approved to adopt a child, most of whom will wait an average of two years.

But the two men may never become fathers because a child's birth mother also has to approve the foster parents.

Opposition Leader Matt Birney slammed the department's decision, saying it was disappointing, disturbing and against a child's best interests.

He said the debate about same-sex parents had been "hijacked" by a focus on the rights of gay parents rather than the rights of children.

"I can't support it. I find it very disappointing and I think most people out there would find this quite disturbing," he said.

Mr Birney said every child deserved to grow up with the influence of a mother and a father.

"Out in the real world, you don't always have that opportunity, but in this case the Government can provide that opportunity," he said.

"Instead, they are imposing their own political ideology on the system and denying a child the best start in life he or she could have."

Australian Family Association WA branch president John Barich described the liberal laws as obscene, anti-social and against the community's wishes.

But Greens MP Giz Watson, a lesbian whose partner of 16 years has three children, said critics of gay adoption were old-fashioned and ill-informed.

She said it was good news the gay couple had taken advantage of the changed laws because sex and sexuality had no bearing on being a good parent.

"There are many examples of same-sex couples raising children in a healthy, loving and stable home environment," she said.

"The main thing to recognise is that a stable, loving couple provide the best environment for children, and gay couples are just as capable as heterosexual couples of providing that."

Despite adoption approval here, the gay couple cannot adopt a foreign child because no other country accepts applications from same-sex couples.

In WA, relinquishing mothers have to give their tick of approval to potential foster parents.

Department for Community Development acting adoptions manager Bob Sprenkels said it meant the gay couple could be "chosen at any time or may never be chosen".

Ms Watson agreed that relinquishing parents should have the final say on who could adopt their child.

But gay couples should be considered on the same terms as heterosexual couples, she said.

[Link: Original Article]

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