Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill

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I rise to make a brief contribution in support of the Adoption and Other Legislation Amendment Bill. The bill makes some important reforms that will mean that more kids will be able to grow up in supportive environments in loving families.

Parenting, as we know, is a joy. Every time I am with my kids I am either consciously or subconsciously reminded that my wife, Kristie, and I have an important responsibility to set them up for the future. It is a responsibility that we take incredibly seriously—to nurture, support and encourage. As every parent here knows, there are ups and downs. There are tantrums and rollercoaster emotions, grazed knees and broken bones. Then there are moments of pure joy—those times when you cannot stop laughing while you are playing; those times of seeing all those firsts, the first steps, catching their first waves and the first time they win an award. The joy is in the journey, in all of the ups and downs.

Today in this place we have the chance to spread that joy of parenthood to many other people—people who have every right to be able to share in that joy of parenting and take on the responsibility of creating safe and secure pathways for our kids.

I know that there are some in the community who believe that a person’s sexual orientation should prevent them from doing certain things. For centuries we have accepted this view in our laws, creating systemic discrimination, denying people the right to fully engage in our society. To me and to most of us, this does not make sense. The gender of the person that you love should not be a hurdle for your full participation in our community. Through this bill, we recognise that.

This is a series of Labor reforms to remove discrimination against LGBTI people from our laws in this state. There should be no roadblock to gay couples adopting children, just like any other couple. What counts—and this is always the important thing—is the love that parents give to their kids. It is the amount of care, love and dedication that really counts. What we have done through existing discriminatory laws is to deny kids in need loving environments on the basis of outdated beliefs that being gay is something that people should be ashamed of.

It is a wrong and selfish view. It is a view that has caused significant damage to the lives of so many. It is a view that has led to gay people being bashed and murdered. It is a view that led to delay in action on HIV/AIDS, causing young gay men to die needlessly in the shadows. It is a view that has denied gay people their rights in the workplace as well. It is a view that has led to too many people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality to take their own life.

When Bill Shorten and the federal ALP talk about not supporting a wasteful plebiscite on gay marriage, it is because too often kids feel being gay is something they should be ashamed of. We have a responsibility to those young kids. We cannot undo the damage of the past, but changes like those presented before us today do set us up for a future where people are not discriminated against. I am not going to cop people saying that gay people cannot be loving parents. I am not going to cop a view that denies children a loving environment on the basis of that discrimination. This bill also addresses similar roadblocks that exist for singles and couples undergoing IVF treatment. We are stopping loving, caring and dedicated people from becoming parents and that simply is not acceptable by any modern community standard.

This bill will also improve the process for step-parents to adopt their stepchildren, which is also a long overdue reform. I want to congratulate the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth and Minister for Child Safety for her hard work in progressing these important reforms. These changes complement the work and progress of this government in reinstating civil partnerships, they complement the progress of this government in investigating the best way to expunge previous criminal convictions for homosexuality, and they complement the work of this government in standardising the age of consent. I would like to acknowledge all of those who have worked so hard in our community for advocating for LGBTI reform for so many years. This government is proud to be governing in the best interests of all Queenslanders, including LGBTIQ people in this state.

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