Same-sex couples will now be able to adopt thanks to a new law passed on Wednesday. But before we all go waving our rainbow flags in celebration, there is a catch.
The law has been amended so that religious adoption agencies can legally refuse same-sex couples the right to adopt.
Originally the bill did not include any religious exemptions, which didn’t allow religious groups to refuse adopting rights, but that was later added by the Upper House.
According to ABC News, only Catholic Care was in favour of refusing adoption rights to same-sex couples.
Victorian Opposition spokesman for equality David Davis said the outcome was not discriminatory, and that same-sex couples would be happy with the change.
“Same-sex couples will be able to get services that they need,” he said. “This is obviously a balance to be struck, and the balance has been carefully thought through by the Legislative Council.”
Freedom of religion is a human right according to the Australian Human Rights Commission, which states the following:
“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Equality Minister Martin Foley on the other hand said he was “deeply disappointed” about the exemption to the bill and that religious adoption groups were discriminating against same-sex couples as a result.
The amendment to the bill could mean we see a repeat of same-sex discrimination, like that which occurred Kentucky in the United States earlier this year, except it would be legal.
Rowan County clerk Kim Davis was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences to gay couples because of her religious beliefs.
“Marriage is a union between one man and one woman,” Davis said in court. “I’ve weighed the cost and I’m prepared to go to jail,” she later told the media.
Children with lesbian or gay parents are just 0.1 percent of all children in the population, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. While Foley and others have expressed their disappointment at the religious amendment of the bill, there’s no doubt that this is a huge leap towards equality in Australia.
“After 15 years of struggle Victoria now has Adoption Equality. I pay tribute to the work of gender diverse and same sex families in achieving this milestone,” Foley posted on his Facebook page.
“Whilst the work of equality is never done this is a major milestone. Above all it is to recognise the rights of children and loving parents.
“It is Love and Families — in all their glorious diversity that we mark today.”