Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Time to reform adoption law

For the past decade, there has been a growing push to reform New Zealand's sixty-year-old adoption laws and bring them into step with modern society. Successive governments haven't wanted to go there - Labour because it didn't want that fight at the same time as civil unions, National because it has a large conservative Christian rump blocking any progress. But now they're going to have to finally do something, with a formal legal declaration that the law is discriinatory and not fit for purpose:

New Zealand's 61-year-old adoption laws are discriminatory and outdated, according to a new ruling.

A Human Rights Review Tribunal decision, which comes after two years of legal battles, has found the Adoption Act 1955 and the Adult Adoption Information Act 1985 contradicts the Human Rights Act and the Bill of Rights Act by discriminating against people based on sex, age, marital status and disability.

The current law stops civil union partners or same-sex de facto couples from adopting. It also places restrictions on single men trying to adopt a female child and stops anyone under the age of 25 from adopting.

The net effect of those restrictions isn't to protect children. Instead, what they mostly do is stop people being legal parents to their own kids. They enforce a tired old bigotry that modern New Zealanders simply don't agree with, and which is now explicitly inconsistent with New Zealand law. National needs to make it a priority to fix this. Sadly, I expect their bigot caucus will do everything it can to prevent that.