The Adoption of Children Legislation Amendment (Equality) Bill 2017 (the Bill) was introduced into the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on 23 November 2017 by the Hon Dale Wakefield, Minister for Territory Families.
On 23 November 2017, the Bill was also referred to the Social Policy Scrutiny Committee (the Committee) for inquiry and report in accordance with cl (4)(c) of the Committee’s Terms of Reference. Submissions on this Bill are open until 24 January 2018 with a response from the Committee expected by 13 March 2018.
The Social Policy Scrutiny Committee’s role is to:
Currently, the Committee members comprise of Ms Ngaree Ah Kit MLA (Chair); Mrs Lia Finocchiaro MLA; Mrs Robyn Lambley MLA; Ms Sandra Nelson MLA and Mr Chansey Paech MLA.
According to the Bill’s Explanatory Statement, its purpose is to amend the Adoption of Children Act (the Act) and Adoption of Children Regulations (the Regulations) to ensure these laws are consistent with Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation and to enable de facto couples, including same-sex couples, to apply to adopt children in the Northern Territory.
The Bill also removes biological sex and gender references from the Act and replaces them with gender neutral terms. The proposed historic amendments are hoping to give all Territorians the right to adopt and provide children with a loving and safe home environment.
It is envisaged that the amendments will remove discriminatory elements of existing law with the amendments promoting greater enjoyment of human rights and freedoms for people by allowing persons in de facto relationships, including same sex relationships to apply to adopt a child in the NT.
Currently, the Act only allows adults, who are a married man and woman, or in a traditional Aboriginal marriage, the right to legally adopt children.
Speaking to the media, Minister Wakefield said:
Rainbow Territory spokesperson, Jane Black, said the current law was discriminatory and this important change needed to happen. Ms Black said:
If passed, the amended Act is anticipated to come into effect in March 2018.
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Same-sex and de facto couples can now legally adopt children in NT –
Adoption of Children Legislation Amendment (Equality) Bill –
Adoption of Children Legislation Amendment (Equality) Bill 2017 (NT) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service
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