Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — I want to make a brief contribution this afternoon on the Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2015.

 I begin by commending many of the contributions made by previous speakers. I would especially like to thank the member for Sunbury for his personal story about the gratitude his family felt having adopted children as part of their loving family. I highlight the Minister for Women’s contribution. She said that many couples in her electorate of Northcote provide incredible foster care, but, because they are gay couples, they are denied the right to adopt the children who they care for and love and who they want to see as members of their family under the law. I am very proud to support this legislation.

As I have heard many people say, we should see this legislation as putting the child first. It is not about us as adults; it is about putting the child first. What every child needs and deserves, as so many speakers have said, is a loving family, and every family deserves a supportive community. I am very proud to be on this side of the house where we are all supporting the bill, because we are committed to supporting families and the community and to having a caring government that is committed to human rights, confronting discrimination and having real respect.

That is what the legislation is about, having real respect for the diversity of the people who live amongst us. As other speakers have also said, this fulfils an election commitment. It is about putting equality back into the political lexicon. It is about putting up in lights that as a government we are committed to equal rights and to ending discrimination based on sexuality so that all families are equal and no child, irrespective of the family unit, is discriminated against and does not have the same rights as every other child.

My thoughts on this were determined very early in my political career when a well-mannered and well-spoken young lady turned up at my electorate office. She was visiting me on behalf of her brother. He was in a gay relationship and wanted to adopt a child. The couple had been living in another country where this was possible, but they wanted to come back to Australia. She was really fearful that this beautiful child, who was coming into a very loving and caring unit, would somehow not be accepted here because our laws were so behind the times. I note other states have got ahead of us in this matter. I was a little bit reluctant when I first heard her speaking. I had grown up in a mother-father household, hearing Baptist Church Sunday school stories. The mother-father paradigm was very strong in my upbringing. But after spending some time with the young lady I could not think of a luckier child in the world to be coming into this family, including the extended family, and as her representative in the Parliament I raised this issue with the then Attorney-General, Rob Hulls.

The winds of change have swept through the Parliament and brought this bill here. This is a contemporary piece of legislation. Many of our children have gay friends. They bring them home, and they are now starting to bring home their foster children and the children who have been born through all sorts of different means, I have to say. We look a bit like fuddy-duddies in that in 2015 we are just coming to terms with the things that our children accept; they take them for granted. As Susie O’Brien said in the Herald Sun, it is about time this legislation came before the Parliament.

Recently friends of ours went to Fiji to get engaged. They already have a newborn child. The mother of one member of the very happily engaged couple said, ‘When are you going to get married?’. She was told, ‘We’ll get married when everybody else in Australia can get married’. That is the attitude of young people today, and that is the attitude this Parliament should represent.

Finally, to those people who have sent me very negative emails about the bill and to the critics and protesters at the back gate, I say thank you for your contribution, but I am not going to be taking much notice of it. I have some tips for them. There is lots of God’s work out there that they could be doing. They could give $50 to World Vision to sponsor a child. I hope they pray fervently for the people of Syria who will soon be arriving in our state and open their doors and bedrooms to them. They should educate themselves about this issue. I will finish by quoting from 1 Corinthians 13.13:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This bill is essentially about recognising that same-sex couples can love each other and provide a loving relationship for their children, and that their children can grow up in a loving family. As the Beatles sang, ‘All you need is love’.