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Legal status of adoption in Australia

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In Australia, same-sex adoption is legal in the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia,[1] while only biolological adoption (regardless of type of couple) is possible in Tasmania. The lesbian co-mother or gay co-father(s) can apply to the Family Court of Australia for a parenting order, as ‘other people significant to the care, welfare and development’ of the child. But the lesbian co-mother and gay co-father(s) will be treated in the same way as a social parent is treated under the law; they will not be treated in the same way as a birth parent.[2] In May 2007, the Victorian Law Reform Commission in Victoria released its final report recommending that the laws be modified to allow more people to use assisted reproductive technologies and to allow same-sex couples to adopt and be recognized as parents to their partner's children.[3]

Australian laws on adoption by same-sex couples
Same-sex couple joint petition LGBT individual adoption Same-sex stepparent adoption
ACT Yes Yes Yes
New South Wales No (under review since 2006) Yes No
Northern Territory No (under review since 2007) Only in exceptional circumstances No
Queensland No (foster parenting allowed) Only in exceptional circumstances No
South Australia No (under review since 2005) No No
Tasmania No Only in exceptional circumstances Yes
Victoria No (under review since 2007) Only in exceptional circumstances Yes
Western Australia Yes Yes Yes
For further information, see: LGBT rights in Australia


  1. ADOPTION ACT 1994 - SECT 39 Criteria for application
  2. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
  3. Victorian Law Reform Commision - Current projects - Assisted Reproduction and Adoption - Final Report

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