Same-sex couples are to be allowed to adopt children in the state of Queensland, if proposed amendments to its Adoption Act are passed.
The amendments, which will be introduced in August, would allow same-sex couples to adopt as well as single people and those undergoing IVF treatment.
Unveiled by Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman, the amendments would also remove the office and penalty for a breach-of-contract statement for pre-1991 adoptions.
The move would bring Queensland in line with New South Wales, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in allowing adoption by singles and same-sex couples.
“We are one of the few remaining states that does not allow same-sex couples to adopt but we are now overturning that legislation and that discrimination,” Ms Fentiman said.
“This ensures the laws reflect community standards and expectations as well as meet the needs of children who require adoption now and into the future.”
Noting a drop in the number of adoptions, with less than 50 children adopted in the past year, Ms Fentiman said this would allow partners who are step-parents, carers or legal guardians could adopt.
Speaking to SBS, Shelley Argent, a spokesperson for PFLAG, said: “People who are opposed to same-sex couples having children, they forget it’s not just the parents and the child, it’s grandparents and extended family (who are effected),” she said.
“We will now have these children officially in our lives.”
The proposed changes come amid a lengthy battle around same-sex marriage in Australia with no clear end in sight.
The country’s right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly blocked free Parliamentary votes on equal marriage, instead making plans to take the issue to the public in a plebiscite (public vote) to avoid a rift with his own conservative anti-LGBT MPs.
Having already agreed to stall the issue until after last month’s federal election, Turnbull – who now holds a wafer-thin majority – has promised to bring forward the plebiscite plan as soon as possible, later this year.
But the move is contentious due to the lack of public opposition to equal marriage, with every major poll on the issue finding the plebiscite result a foregone conclusion.
The opposition Labor Party has attacked the plebiscite is a costly stalling tactic from Turnbull’s Coalition, bringing a human rights issue to a public vote for political reasons. Labor plans to bring a rival private members’ bill on equal marriage, to secure the reform through a simple vote in Parliament.
Estimates for the controversial vote by the Australian Electoral Commission place the vote at a cost of AUD$158 million (£84 million), but the true cost could over half a billion Australian dollars, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers.