Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Associate Minister of Justice): No, no change has been considered at this time.
Murray Smith: Is it the Minister’s view that those who adopt children should be in a stable relationship, and if so, does he believe that a civil union would be akin to marriage in that respect?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I do believe that those applying to adopt children should be in stable and responsible relationships, but there are a number of inconsistencies in our current adoption law that do need to be addressed at some time.
Moana Mackey: Will the Civil Union Bill or the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill have an impact on who can adopt a child?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: No, the Civil Union Bill and the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill contain no references to, and therefore do not change, who is legally eligible to adopt a child.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister aware of the statement by Labour MP Georgina Beyer that she wants new laws to specifically recognise transgender people, and not just men and women, in New Zealand; and is that the next stage of social engineering that we can expect from this Labour Government?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am aware of my colleague’s statement. This Government, however, is not involved in social engineering. I would say, though, in regard to adoption that substantive reviews of New Zealand adoption laws were initiated, but discontinued, in 1979, 1987, 1988, and 1990. One day we may be able to address that issue responsibly.
Dail Jones: Is the Minister seriously trying to tell the House that in the event of the Civil Union Bill being passed, those parties—men and men, and women and women—will not rely on the new legislation to try to convince a court that their status has been approved by Parliament, and that that gives them a better opportunity to adopt children?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Yes.
Murray Smith: Why has the Government not considered the issue of adoption, given the Government’s commitment to amend all remaining laws that cause unfair discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Our predecessor in Government, National, did ask the Law Commission to do some work on this matter, and subsequently the Government Administration Committee has also addressed the issue. That work, however, is not on the Ministry of Justice’s 1904-05 work programme, and nor has it been considered by Cabinet.