The Queensland Parliament has passed the Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, thereby enabling same sex couples to be eligible for adoption for the first time in Queensland. The change will continue to update Queensland’s adoption laws and modernise it in line with most Australian States with the exception of South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The Adoption Act 2009 commenced in 2010 with significant changes to Queensland’s approach to adoption. Primarily, it introduced a contemporary framework for the adoption of children and provided greater access to information for parties to adoption. Essentially, the Act allowed for the child, adoptive parents, and birth parents to know each other as well as the circumstances of the adoption.
Under section 327 of the Act, there was a legislative requirement that the Minister review the operation of the Act five years from its commencement. The review of the operation commenced in late 2015 and was completed in August 2016. As a result of the review, according to Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman:
Primarily, the Bill recognises the need to provide fairness and equity and amends eligibility criteria to enable same sex couples and single parents, including those undergoing fertility treatments, to adopt a child. The Bill also removes the offence and associated penalty for a breach of a contact statement for adoption that occurred before June 1991. "The removal of these provisions will further honour the apology given by Parliament to Queenslanders who were affected by past forced adoption practices," Ms Fentiman said.
The passage of the Bill was opposed by the LNP and Katter’s Australian Party who argued that the expansion to the Act was not necessary. They argued that there is no demand for adoptive children and so expanding the eligibility list was not needed. However, Ms Fentiman rebutted that this was not an issue of supply and demand.
The Bill is awaiting assent in the Legislative Assembly.
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Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, Bill, Explanatory Notes and Speech as published on LawOne
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