Norman Elliott: Consider children’s rights too

NZ Herald 11 March 2013
Family lawyer Norman Elliott argues that changes to adoption ought not be made in a bill about marriage.

The government administration select committee report to Parliament recommends the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill with certain amendments.

It also recommends consequential amendments to 14 other statutes, including the Adoption Act 1955 “to ensure that there will be no legal differences between different kinds of marriages”. If the recommendations are approved by Parliament, same-sex adoption will become law without further inquiry.

The committee notes that a homosexual or transgender person may legally adopt a child, but same-sex couples may not. It comments that such a position seems absurd. The amendments it recommends “will ensure that married couples are eligible to adopt, regardless of the gender of the adoptive parents”. There is emphasis on the rights of adults but no mention of the interests of children.

We have the extraordinary situation of a significant change to a long-standing law affecting children being brought about by a bill concerned with the perceived need for same-sex partners to have equality with married couples.

I believe New Zealanders expect the interests of children to be considered at the forefront of any legislation that directly affects them. This example suggests that in reality it is the interests of adults rather than children which come first.

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