Same-sex couples and single people have been granted the right to adopt in Queensland after a late-night vote on Wednesday.
The Labor bill to reform Queensland's adoption laws was passed after an hour and a half of debate, with the Speaker casting the deciding vote.
Same-sex couples, individuals, and people undergoing fertility treatment will now be able to put their names on the expression of interest adoption register. The Liberal National opposition and two Katter party MPs voted against these clauses.
Government minister Shannon Fentiman told the parliament she was proud the bill would overturn discriminatory laws barring same-sex couples from adopting.
"For too long Queensland’s LGBTI community has been barred from even considering meeting the needs of a child through adoption as an option," she said.
Fentiman noted that during the committee process some submissions had argued against the legal changes by saying a child's best interests can only be met by a mother and a father.
"Meeting the best interests, needs, and wellbeing of a child is not dependent on whether a child has parents who are of the same gender, opposite gender, or even whether they are raised by a single parent," she told the parliament. "In fact, there is clear evidence that regardless of the gender and sexuality of a child’s parents, it is positive relationships and a supportive, nurturing, and loving home that provides the best outcomes for children."
Opposition MP Ros Bates said the LNP's opposition to allowing same-sex couples to adopt was due to the small number of adoptions that happen in Queensland each year.
"The government has not demonstrated the need to expand or grow the number of eligible adoptive parents based on very limited numbers of children needing adoption in Queensland each year," she said.
"Because of this, any expansion of the right to adopt to single people and same-sex couples will do nothing but create an unrealistic expectation amongst these
Queenslanders that they will have easy access to adoption."
Bates argued there are not enough children seeking adoption in Queensland to "warrant a relaxation of the eligibility criteria".
"Couples who apply today to adopt a child in Queensland may not have their
application finalised for a number of years into the future, and yet this government wants to expand the number of people eligible to adopt in Queensland without demonstrating the need to."
Labor MP Steven Miles told the parliament about a same-sex couple he knows who became foster carers to a young boy after deciding they were "in a good place to help a child who really needed it".
"They loved him in spite of some of his worst behaviours and after a short time you could see him really begin to feel and understand that," he said. "He became their son, and now they live together as a family.
"To this day, Lewis* is proud of his two dads and they have spent the last five years caring for him and working with him to overcome his sad past. Most importantly, though, Lewis wants to be adopted by them, and why shouldn’t he be allowed to when they have built this beautiful, caring family?"
After the opposition whip, Trevor Watts, reported the "no" votes to the speaker on the final ballot, deputy premier Jackie Trad labelled the opposition "Disgraceful. Bigots."
She was asked to withdraw after Watts said he took "personal offence" to being called a bigot.
The Queensland bill leaves South Australia and the Northern Territory as the only Australian jurisdictions where same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt.
* Not his real name.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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