Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Australian - "PM to Fight States on Gay Adoptions" by AAP

THE Federal Government has put itself on a new collision course with the States by proposing a ban on gay couples adopting overseas.

THE federal government has indicated it would legislate to stop same-sex Australian couples adopting a child from overseas, in a move that would over-ride state and territory laws.

The move comes days after the Prime Minister took on the States by announcing a community-based Federal Government takeover of the Mersey Hospital in Devonport.

It also comes hot on the heels of a political debate on federalism, with Prime Minister John Howard branding as archaic Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd's plan to gives states more autonomy in using federal funds.

The move could herald a bitter and divided community debate, with views among some Australians likely to be polarised on what is a sensitive issue.

WA moved in 2002 to allow same-sex couples to adopt, the ACT passed similar legislation in 2004, and Tasmanian law allows gay couples to adopt where one of the partners is a parent of the child.

Mr Howard has previously said he does not support gay couples adopting children.

"I don't support gay adoption, no," Mr Howard said in response to the ACT's law change.

"I'm against gay adoption, just as I'm against gay marriage. ''

The government says it will introduce a bill into parliament in the spring session, which begins next week, that will mean overseas adoptions by same-sex couples will not be recognised in Australia.

If it becomes law, the child would not be granted a visa to enter Australia.

The Family Law (Same Sex Adoption) Bill is listed on the Prime Minister and Cabinet department's website as legislation "proposed for introduction in the 2007 spring sittings".

It will "amend the Family Law Act 1975 to indicate that adoptions by same sex couples of children from overseas under either bilateral or multilateral arrangements will not be recognised in Australia".

Overseas adoptions currently can occur between Australia and other countries that have ratified the Hague convention, or with which Australia has a bilateral agreement.

The move follows the landmark adoption of a boy by two gay men in Western Australia in June.

Under current laws, state and territory welfare authorities have responsibility for overseeing international adoptions, including negotiating agreements with other countries and assessing and approving prospective adoptive parents.

The adoption by two men of a stranger's child is believed to be a first for Australia, and was hailed as "groundbreaking" by the WA government and gay rights groups.

"I think there are certain benchmark institutions and arrangements in our society that you don't muck around with.

"Children ideally should be brought up by a mother and a father who are married. That's the ideal."
It is not known if the opposition will support the legislation.

Labor sided with the government in June to vote down a motion in the Senate that called for singles and same-sex couples to be given equal adoption rights and access to IVF.

The motion, put by Australian Greens senator Kerry Nettle, cited a report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission which found that having single, lesbian or gay parents did not pose a risk to children's wellbeing.

[Link: Original Article]

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