Victoria legalises adoption rights for gay couples

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Same-sex couples will now be able to adopt children in the Australian state of Victoria.

The Victorian upper house passed the same-sex adoption bill last month, but on Wednesday afternoon it passed in the state’s lower house.

While the opposition was given a free vote on the bill, it passed unopposed.

The Victorian Labor Party accepted amendments to the bill which allowed religious organisation the power to decline adoption for same-sex couples.

The party had previously argued against such amendments.

over as Prime Minister earlier this year after his party voted to oust Tony Abbott – a strong conservative and opponent of same-sex marriage.

As a vote in Parliament loomed, Mr Abbott put plans in place for a plebiscite (public vote) on equal marriage. His actions averted a showdown on the issue, but also caused a lengthy delay – as the plebiscite will not take place until  2017.

New PM Mr Turnbull has affirmed his support for the plebiscite, but equality activists have urged him to consider dropping the plans – and instead allowing a simple free vote to go ahead in Parliament.