The issue of gay adoption is set to make its way on to the parliamentary agenda in a private member's bill sponsored by Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern.

But it is not likely to be as polarising as Louisa Wall's gay marriage bill that passed its first hurdle in Parliament on Wednesday.

Ms Ardern's private member's bill would require the Law Commission to update a report it wrote around adoption and its alternatives.

The bill intends that the report include issues such as adoption by gay couples. It does not directly legalise adoption by gay couples.


Ironically, the Louisa Wall bill legalising gay marriage would also legalise gay adoption because it would bring same-sex couples into definition of a spouse (or marital partner) - who is legally entitled to apply for adoption under the current Adoption Act.

Her bill passed its first reading by 80 votes to 40.

Ms Ardern's bill, the Care of Children Law Reform Bill, was one of four private member's bills drawn out yesterday.

Ms Ardern said New Zealand's adoption laws had not been updated for 50 years, and did not serve the interests of children.

Her bill would remove some of the barriers for same-sex couples and other individuals to adopt.

"At the moment in New Zealand a gay individual can adopt, but a gay couple cannot. A heterosexual de facto couple can adopt, but a heterosexual civil union couple cannot.

"It's complex, it doesn't make sense, and it's time it was updated."

National MP Nikki Kaye and Green MP Kevin Hague are jointly working on a private member's bill that would reform the Care of Children Act and would also legalise gay adoption.


But their work is not yet completed and is not yet in the private member's bill ballot.

Ms Kaye told the Herald in May that it was a complex piece of work and there would be about 40 policy decisions. Some would be controversial, including the age of adoption, adoption by same-sex couples, adoption by single people, Maori adoption practices and surrogacy.

Ms Ardern stood against Ms Kaye in Auckland Central.