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Tribunal adds to calls for adoption reform

A Human Rights Tribunal ruling that New Zealand’s adoption laws are discriminatory is yet another reason why the Government needs to act urgently to reform the 60-year-old law, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Adoption Action took a case to the tribunal in 2013 and this week the Human Rights Tribunal agreed that in six areas the 1955 Act was discriminatory and contrary to the Human Rights Act and Bill of Rights Act.

“This is not the first call for adoption law reform. The Law Commission completed a comprehensive review of the law in 2000 and while work began on implementing some of these suggested changes, it was never completed.

“Successive National Ministers have recognised the problem but have all said adoption reform is not a priority. There are a mounting number of groups who openly disagree with that view.

“The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child have consistently raised New Zealand’s failures to take action to update our laws. The Human Rights Commission, Family Court judges and the Law Society have all called for action to ensure our laws place children at the centre of the process.

“It’s no wonder that adoption numbers are so low in New Zealand. This law was passed in the 1950s and was based around the idea of stranger adoption – it doesn’t even cater for whangai adoption despite it being common practice in New Zealand

“The Minister and Government has 120 days to respond to the Human Rights Tribunal. We urge her to use this opportunity to prioristise adoption reform – the time has most certainly come,” Jacinda Ardern says.