The Victorian government’s legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt children takes effect from today.
“The commencement of the Adoption Amendment Act today is testament to the advocacy, patience and hard work of many Victorian rainbow families,” Rainbow Families Council co-convenor Felicity Marlowe said on Thursday.
“Adoption equality will mean hundreds of Victorian children will be afforded the rights and legal protections they deserve.”
The Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Act 2015 passed through the state’s parliament in December last year.
Equality Minister Martin Foley said it was a “historic day” in Victoria.
“This law brings much needed certainty for many children and their parents who currently live in a legal haze in terms of their relationships with the people they love,” he said.
— Adoption Equality (@AdoptionEqualiT) August 31, 2016
Anna Viola, who has a same-sex partner and a daughter in a step-parent family, called the news a “momentous step” for rainbow families in her state.
“Being able to adopt means that my partner and child will be able to have their relationship bound by law and all the protections and rights that we couldn’t take for granted before,” she said.
“It’s a momentous step for us emotionally too; what adoption symbolises as well as what it means on paper.”
But the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said they were disappointed exemptions remained in the legislation that allow faith-based agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, and called for their removal.
“We firmly believe that children’s rights should never be trumped by the religious beliefs of a state-funded service provider,” VGLRL co-convenor Sean Mulcahy said.
The Victorian government’s Department of Human Services says that in the event an agency “is unable to assist a couple because of its religious beliefs, it will refer the couple to another agency. Care will be taken to minimise disruption to applicants and any other parties involved.”
New South Wales, the ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia have also legislated to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.
In early August the Queensland government finally announced they will move to legalise same-sex adoption after years of inaction.