The push by Victoria’s Andrews government to force Catholic adoptions agencies to comply with its proposed same-sex adoption reforms is hardly about boosting the number of adoptions.
Adoption is meant to form new families for children who can’t live with their birth parents. But adoption is very rare in Australia despite there being many children who could be adopted.
Last year were just 89 adoptions nationally from care – 84 of which were in NSW – despite more than 43,000 children living in care across the country. That’s because adoption is taboo.
Instead of boosting adoptions, the Andrews government seems determined to use reform of the Adoption Act 1988 as a stalking horse for the anti-religion agenda of secular progressives.
That’s why the Bill before Parliament also amends the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 to eliminate protections for religious freedom and freedom of conscience in relation to adoption.
Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, says the reforms would force Catholic adoption agencies to choose between Catholic teaching or breaking the law.
But Minister for Equality Matthew Foley is unmoved. “Equality is not negotiable,” he said. Apparently, both the Anglican and Uniting Churches in Victoria agree, and are supporting the proposed reforms — thereby leaving their sisters and brothers in the Catholic Church high and dry.
Victorian Catholics had been hoping to win the same exemptions granted by the Keneally Government In 2010 when NSW legalised same-sex adoptions.
Linda Burney, former NSW Minister for Community Services, stated that faith-based organisations are “an integral part of our pluralist society and provide stability, security and guidance to many.”
Ms Burney also affirmed same-sex couples continue to adopt children through NSW Community Services and Barnados.
The Victorian government is not so generous to faith-based organisations. Rather than risk violating the law, the most likely outcome of is that Catholic adoption agencies will close their doors for good.
Yet given the negligible numbers of adoptions in Victoria, it is hard to believe that the government’s real concern is with securing the rights of same-sex couples to adopt through CatholicCare.
If it was, it would devote its energies to pursuing reform of its anti-adoption policies rather than corrupting the long-standing balance between the rule of law and freedom of religion.
This is an edited extract of an oped that appeared in today’s Australian.
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