Australia: Gay couples can’t get married. But they can adopt. Huh?

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Oliver Jacques/ News Corp Australia Network

There was once a time in this country when people got married, then had kids.

But if you’re gay in Australia today, you’re allowed to adopt children, but forbidden from marrying the one you love. This makes no sense at all, especially since our prime minister once lectured us that families are stronger when the parents are “formerly, legally married”.

In November, the Queensland and South Australian parliaments voted in favor of allowing gay couples to adopt children. If passed by the South Australian upper house, same-sex adoption will be legal in every Australian state.

Adoption is very rare in Australia, for both gay and straight couples alike. (Pic: Getty Images)

It’s hard to argue against permitting gays to adopt. Even if you believe that a child is better off with a loving mother and father, the fact is there are thousands of kids who have neither. There are 30,000 Australian children — removed from their birth parents due to abuse or neglect — who have been living away from home for more than two years. Many are drifting in and out of unstable single-parent foster homes. Few are likely to return to their birth families.

Adoption is very rare in Australia, for both gay and straight couples alike. Stifling bureaucracy and restrictive eligibility  means the process takes on average four years. It seems sensible to make adoption easier and more accessible to non-traditional families. Kids who can’t return home would be provided with permanency and stability from an early age, rather than remaining in the child protection system.

Indeed, kids are being so damaged by constant instability, we’re having to institutionalize them again. You might think of orphanages as a relic of the 1950s, but the number of Australian children living in facilities staffed by paid workers has gone up 150 per cent over the past decade.

If you’re gay in Australia today you’re allowed to adopt children, but forbidden from marrying the one you love. (Pic: iStock)

As a recent ABC Four Corners episode revealed, many of these kids are sexually abused or neglected again while in these institutions. Could a properly vetted, stable, loving pair of gay adoptive parents possibly be any worse for them than that?

Malcolm Turnbull has said that families are more likely to remain stable when the parents are married. It’s therefore crazy to allow gay couples to make a lifelong commitment to look after vulnerable children (in desperate need of stability), but prevent them from making a lifelong commitment to each other.

Same-sex adoption has been legalized throughout Australia, without the need for any plebiscites. The federal government must therefore move quickly to allow same-sex marriage.

Even if they don’t care about gay rights, won’t somebody please think of the children?


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