The parliament in Australia’s most populous state has voted to allow same-sex couples the same rights to adopt as heterosexuals.
Members of the New South Wales (NSW) state parliament voted 46-44 in favour of removing discriminatory clauses in the Adoption Act.
In two other jurisdictions, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, gay adoption is already legal.
The debate on the bill lasted four days and drew a crowd of 200 protestors to Sydney’s Parliament House.
David Clarke, who led the protest, argued that his supporters were not motivated by their religious creed.
“This has nothing to do with religion,” he said. “This is about morality and this is about the rights of children.”
Devout Catholic Kristina Keneally, the premier of NSW, supported the bill.
“In forming my position on this bill, I have considered my experiences as a mother, my responsibilities as a parliamentarian and my conscience as a Christian and member of the Catholic faith,” she said.
Opposition Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell also voted in favour of the change.
“I support this measure today ... for the sake of children, but also because I don’t believe our society should exclude because of gender, sexuality, faith, background or some other factor, people who have a contribution they can make,” he said.
EI affiliate, the Australian Education Union (AEU), has congratulated those members of the NSW Legislative Assembly who made this important move towards removing the last piece of NSW law that discriminates against same-sex couples and their families.
AEU Federal President, Angelo Gavrielatos, said: “This legislation ensures that people are assessed on objective criteria when adopting children rather than their sexual orientation, and it acknowledges the diverse families that exist within our communities by affording them the legal rights and responsibilities of all families.”