: Queensland allows LGBTI couples, singles to adopt

Queensland allows LGBTI couples, singles to adopt

Stephen Page

Queensland’s Parliament has passed an historic Bill to remove discrimination in adoption for the first time. The Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 removes discrimination in the Adoption Act 2009 to now allow same sex couples, singles and those undergoing fertility treatment to be eligible to adopt.

The removal of discrimination against same sex couples brings Queensland into line with all other states and territories, with the exception of South Australia (which has its own Bill to remove discrimination in adoption) and the Northern Territory.

The Bill also makes it easier for those adopted before June 1991 to be able to find their family of origin.

The Bill received Royal assent on 11 November 2016.

The Bill requires a person, if part of a couple, to apply as a couple — but if they have separated, then a person can apply alone: there is no need in the case of married couples to wait for divorce. The two-year eligibility requirement for relationships has been removed.

The Bill also contains a definition of infertility, which is a precursor to a likely new definition to be endorsed by the World Health Organization — aside from issues of risk, ‘infertility’ is defined for the first time as ‘an inability, for a reason beyond the person’s control, to conceive’. This is a much broader definition than the traditional definition of medical infertility — which has been the inability to fall pregnant after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse — a definition which has been criticised for being heteronormative and not inclusive of singles, or same sex couples.

The Bill has come about following a review of the Adoption Act, and following public consultation. Not surprisingly there are quite a few tweaks to the 2009 Act. One of the more significant is that a step-parent adoption application must be made within 1 year of the suitability report being obtained. The Bill contains a wider definition of ‘relative’, to include the wider concept in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, consistent with other Queensland legislation. Another is that — consistent with Article 8 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child — a child’s identity ought to be preserved. When the adoption order is made, the child’s first name remains the same, except in exceptional circumstances with the agreement of the adoptive parents.

A further review of the Act is mandated five years after the Bill becomes law.

STEPHEN PAGE is a partner of Harrington Family Lawyers, Brisbane.

(2016) 41(4) AltLJ 287
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