In a disgraceful dismissal of the findings of a six-month parliamentary inquiry, the New South Wales Labor government will continue the legal ban on same-sex couples being able to adopt children.
The inquiry took submissions from activists and lobbyists such as the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW) and Rainbow Labor, as well as churches, charities, and adoption agencies.
The Law and Justice Committee, which conducted the inquiry, recommended the Adoption Act 2000 be amended to allow same-sex couples to adopt.
Committee Chair, Christine Robertson MLC, wrote in her forward to the inquiry report that the "committee has concluded that reform to allow same-sex couples to adopt in NSW will protect children's rights and help to ensure children's best interests.
It will do so by providing the security of legal recognition for existing parent-child relationships, by broadening the pool of potential applicants from which the most appropriate parents for any individual child are selected, and by enabling children currently fostered by same-sex couples to have that relationship permanently secured where appropriate.
Such reform will also address discrimination against same-sex couples and their children, and address anomalous inconsistencies in their present treatment under the law."
However, it seems the NSW government has bowed to pressure from reactionary religious extremists and refused to implement the recommendations of the inquiry.
For instance Gordon Moyes, parliamentary leader of Family First, hailed the decision: "Family First is delighted with this response."
More disgusting was the submission to the inquiry made by Michelle Kelly, the principal of St Philip's Christian College in Gosford, in which she said same-sex adoption was an "abomination".
Likewise, Allan Rae, secretary of the Belrose Concerned Citizens Christian Group, made a simple yet bigoted one sentence submission to the inquiry: "This Legislation must not be passed because it is not natural and is against the Word of God."
Linda Burney, NSW Minister for Community Services, justified the decision of the state government not to legalise adoption by same-sex couples on the grounds that they were "not satisfied there is broad enough community support to justify new state legislation at this stage".
Same-sex couples are able to adopt in the ACT and Western Australia, and in limited circumstances in Tasmania (where same-sex couples can adopt children who are related to one of the members of the couple).
However, the only way that gay people can adopt a child in NSW is by applying as an individual rather than with their partner.
But the long waiting lists for individuals mean that it is very hard for individuals to adopt. The implementation of the inquiry recommendations would bring NSW into line with the more progressive legislation of other states.
There is at least one positive response from the NSW government to moves that will progress same-sex parenting rights in this state.. The NSW attorney-general, John Hatzistergos, has responded favourably to the Legislation on Altruistic Surrogacy in NSW Report.
The attorney-general's response includes a recommendation that the state government introduce legislation to establish a mechanism for the transferal of parental status for surrogacy arrangements.
This would mean legal recognition of parental rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples that have children through surrogacy arrangements.