Sunday, November 8, 2015

[Australia] "Same-sex parents fight for adoption equality and hope bill will pass Victorian Parliament" - The Age by Benjamin Preiss

Great to see two of the pioneers of Australian Gay Men doing Surrogacy, Lee Matthews and Tony Wood in the paper today.  An important story and hopefully a brighter future for LGBTI people and adoption in Victoria.

Tony Wood considers his family quite conventional, but their story has come to symbolise the push for new laws that could soon allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Their routine would be familiar to many other families. They balance the extracurricular activities of son Alexander, 12, and daughter Luci, 10, while Mr Wood and his partner, Lee Matthews, juggle work commitments.

But Mr Wood and Mr Matthews, who have been together for 26 years, have also pushed for families like theirs to be granted full recognition under the law. That could soon be achieved, with proposed same-sex adoption laws  having passed the State Parliament's lower house.

Local MP Martin Foley knocked on the door of the family's St Kilda home several years ago, and has followed their progress ever since.

Mr Foley, now Equality Minister in the Andrews government, says Mr Wood and Mr Matthews' situation helped to illustrate the "absurdity" of laws that do not allow same-sex adoption.
"When you see these kids grow up as part of your community in a stable, loving, respectful family and they tell you all the practical difficulties this nonsense throws in their path, you cannot help but be moved," he said.

The couple had their children with an American surrogate but only the biological father of each child is recognised as a parent under the law, even though they share responsibility for parenting.

That can lead to legal problems in areas such as providing consent for medical treatment.

"Legally that can be a fraught situation that can only be overcome by the type of reforms that we're talking about here, which can ensure that the parents who expect to have custody and care of children are actually given that," he said.

If same-sex adoption laws are passed it will mean both Mr Wood and Mr Matthews can be legally recognised as parents of both their children.

More than 10 years ago, the couple shared their challenges about surrogacy and adoption in a TV documentary and also an interview with The Age.

While there is cross-party consensus to allow same-sex couples to be jointly recognised as parents, the proposed laws have struck a hurdle in  Parliament's upper house.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy wants to ensure the laws retain exemptions for faith-based adoption agencies, which would allow them to refuse to provide services to gay couples. However, Labor wants that right scrapped.

CatholicCare is to date the only faith-based adoption agency that has voiced an objection to same-sex adoption.

Read more at The Age

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