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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 134..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

racial or ethnic background, religious upbringing, or to whether a single person might adopt a child.

Mr Stefaniak said, in the context of the debate, "Let us now add to that sexuality."He wants us, quite starkly and explicitly, to include that provision in the Adoption Act. So a relinquishing parent might be asked, "Do you have a view on the sexuality of a potential adopting parent?"That is a retrograde and unnecessary step. Let us look at the context of that provision. What have we, as a legislature, just done? We have just agreed to remove a provision that discriminates against a group of people-discrimination that is based solely and entirely on gender and sexuality.

Opposition members are saying, "This parliament has just agreed to remove sexuality as a bar to the right to adopt. We want to reintroduce the notion of sexuality in the Adoption Act."It wants to do that almost by subterfuge. It wants to send out the message that that factor should be taken into account when determining whether or not a person should be allowed to adopt a child. That is contrary to what we have just done. It is contrary to the whole focus and thrust of the reform process in which we have been engaged for the past two years, namely, to remove from all our legislation language that is not inclusive of same-sex couples. That is the process in which we have been engaged.

We have been engaged in a process of removing legislated discrimination against gays and lesbians in this community. The opposition has now put forward a proposal to reintroduce it in another guise, at the very moment that it has been removed. The process in which we have been engaged is removing discrimination based on sexuality. As I said earlier, the opposition's amendment is nothing more than a subterfuge. At the same time as we agreed to remove from the Adoption Act discrimination against same-sex couples, we receive a proposal to reintroduce it. The process in which we have been engaged-the law reform project that we are concluding this evening-is about removing discriminatory elements from a raft of legislation.

At the conclusion of this debate the Sexuality Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill will become law. This legislation will remove discriminatory elements from a dozen or so pieces of legislation. This legislation deals with parenting aspects, the Adoption Act and the removal of discrimination from that act. We are not involved in a rewrite or review of the Adoption Act. We made a conscious decision not to do that. This project, which is divisive and difficult, has roused some passion within the community. If we were reviewing the Adoption Act, we would want to determine whether or not to retain those other provisions in section 19 (2) (b). We certainly would not be looking to add a fourth provision.

MRS DUNNE (10.15): It is breathtaking in these circumstances that the government is opposing the opposition's amendment. The Adoption Act gives relinquishing parents the right to make some decisions about the ongoing welfare of their children. The Chief Minister referred earlier to three examples in that act. What he said is incorrect.

Mr Stanhope: It is an inclusive provision. They are examples.

MRS DUNNE: They are not examples; they are provisions in the legislation. They are not explanatory notes or things that may or may not be taken into consideration.


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