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Same-sex couples can now adopt anywhere in Australia as final territory changes law

Same-sex couples can now adopt anywhere in Australia as final territory changes law

Two men hold hands with two children in between them

Finally, same-sex couples can adopt children anywhere in Australia. The Northern Territory (NT) just became the last state or territory to change its laws.

The NT passed legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt children on Tuesday (13 March). The law will allow couple to adopt whether or not they are married.

The previous law required a man and a woman to be married for two years before they were allowed to adopt children. But Australia only legalized same-sex marriage in December 2017, making same-sex couples ineligible to adopt.

NT’s Minister for Territory Families, Dale Wakefield said ‘children and families’ were at the ‘heart of the government’s decision’.

‘All couples, regardless of marital status or gender, who genuinely want to provide children with a loving, caring and safe home environment, should have the legal right to apply,’ he said.

‘Modernising our adoption laws reflect the diversity of Territory families today.’

Children need loving homes

For a long time same-sex couples have fostered children in the Northern Territory. But they were never allowed to adopt them even if it was in the child’s best interests.

‘The Northern Territory joins the rest of Australia in recognising that what matters most is that children grow up in loving and safe homes, regardless of the gender of the people that care for them,’ said Anna Brown, director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Legal Center.

‘The passage of adoption equality will make a significant difference to children who are already being raised in loving homes by same-sex couples. This will finally give them the emotional and legal stability that’s long overdue.’