Adoption of children by same-sex couples is not currently permitted in New Zealand.
Under the Adoption Act, which dates back to 1955, individuals in gay or lesbian relationships can adopt, but their partners cannot share the same legal status.
A recent Herald-DigiPoll survey found that 54 per cent of people think gay couples should be allowed to adopt children while 36 per cent disagreed. Two years ago a Herald website poll had 41 per cent in favour and 59 per cent against, according to Derek Cheng's article Majority back gay adoption.
Our collective attitudes towards the rights of gay people are clearly becoming more liberal. Most of us see this as a simple human rights issue. The fact that adopting a child isn't an option for same-sex couples is discriminatory and doesn't sit well with our aims of achieving an egalitarian society.
Those who oppose same-sex adoption cite the same arguments that were used to oppose homosexual law reform back in the eighties. They say that homosexuality is "unnatural" or "sinful" and so should not be pandered to by the state or society.
And, because adoption by definition involves children, those against same-sex-couple adoptions have even more scope with which to build their spurious case. They make baseless claims that homosexuality can somehow be "transmitted" to adopted children.
Conveniently confusing homosexuality with paedophilia, they also claim gay men will have sexual desires on children they adopt. Such unfounded arguments are surely a sign of desperation on the part of those who don't wish to see adoption by same-sex couples made lawful. Perhaps they stoop to such measures because they know they're fighting a losing battle and they sense the public appetite for change.
But I'm certainly not making excuses for the conservative lobby groups. In fact some of their claims make me feel a little queasy. They're so unpalatable and so offensive that they should never be used no matter how lacking in genuine and cogent argument their case is. Quote passages from the Bible if you must but please don't malign a whole sector of society in some futile attempt to hold onto an oppressive past.
Both sides of the debate agree on one thing: that the welfare of the child should be of paramount concern and that every child has a right to be raised in a loving home. And since those hoping to adopt a child are subjected to a veritable battery of questionnaires and interviews in the screening process, I've no doubt the people who successfully navigate this are far more qualified and fit to be a parent than a lot of the people having kids biologically.
As far as priorities go, same-sex adoption probably isn't the most pressing issue facing New Zealanders today. But here's my Pantene predication: a change to the law allowing same-sex couples to adopt children won't happen overnight - but it will happen. Legislative injustices of this nature have no place in modern society.
- NZ HERALD ONLINE