Adoption ruling ‘a beacon of hope’

The Dominion Post 26/06/2010

A High Court decision allowing a de facto couple to adopt has reignited calls for an overhaul of the law so that same-sex couples have the same rights. Under the Adoption Act 1955, only married couples or individuals may adopt. Individuals in gay, lesbian and de facto heterosexual relationships can adopt, but their partners cannot share the same legal status.

But a decision in the High Court at Wellington this week overturned an earlier ruling preventing the couple from adopting, finding the term “spouses” applies to de facto couples. “The necessary profile of the applicants, namely that they offer a mother and a father, is achieved,” Justices John Wild and Simon France said in the decision. The ruling applied only to heterosexual couples, although it would break break down a barrier and open the doors for other appeals, they said. The decision comes nearly 10 years after a Law Commission report recommended adapting the adoption laws to allow both de facto and same-sex couples to adopt, and has reignited calls for the act to be overhauled.