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Same-sex couples can now adopt children in Queensland after narrow vote

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Following a narrow parliamentary vote, the Australian territory of Queensland will now allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

Single parents are also eligible to adopt under the new rules, which were passed after an hour and a half of debate when the Speaker cast the deciding vote.

“For too long Queensland’s LGBTI community has been barred from even considering meeting the needs of a child through adoption as an option,” said government minister Shannon Fentiman.

“Meeting the best interests, needs and wellbeing of a child is not dependent on whether a child has parents who are of the same gender, opposite gender or even whether they are raised by a single parent,” she told parliament.

“In fact, there is clear evidence that regardless of the gender and sexuality of a child’s parents, it is positive relationships and a supportive, nurturing and loving home that provides the best outcomes for children.”

The bill faced criticism from the opposition Liberal National Party, which argued there were not enough adoptions in Queensland to justify the change.

“The government has not demonstrated the need to expand or grow the number of eligible adoptive parents based on very limited numbers of children needing adoption in Queensland each year,” said MP Ros Bates.

“Because of this, any expansion of the right to adopt to single people and same-sex couples will do nothing but create an unrealistic expectation amongst these Queenslanders that they will have easy access to adoption.”

That argument did little to convince deputy premier Jackie Trad though, who labelled the dissenting voters “disgraceful bigots,” and was asked to withdraw.

The change means that South Australia and the Northern Territory are now the only parts of Australia where same-sex couples are not legally allowed to adopt.

It comes as LGBT activists are still fighting for same-sex marriage rights in the country, with the government still pledging to hold a public vote on the issue rather than deciding it in parliament.

The delays have drawn criticism from celebrities including Natalie Imbruglia and Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill, who asked: “What’s the matter with this constipated parliament?”

Still, at least today’s vote is some cheer for Aussie LGBT people, along with the news that the country will be returning to the Eurovision Song Contest for the third time next year.

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