The case being taken by the network Adoption Action against the Attorney-General is underway in Wellington.
The claim is being defended by the Crown but has received support in submissions filed by the Human Rights Commission and the Childrenâs Commissioner.
Adoption Action spokesman Robert Ludbrook says the Adoption Act was passed 58 years ago and reflects the attitudes and values that prevailed at that time.
âSuccessive governments have failed to amend or replace the many archaic provisions of the 1955 Act, despite more than 100 recommendations made by the Law Commission in a wide-ranging report in 2000.â
Ludbrook says five Ministers of Justice have accepted that there is a need for reform and various assurances have been given, but new legislation has never been drafted. He says the Ministry of Justice has commenced work on reform on at least five different occasions but it has never been followed through.
âOur adoption laws have been criticised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003 and 2011, and by at least five Family Court judges. The Ministry and Cabinet have at different times accepted that our adoption laws are discriminatory, but have not progressed reform.
âAn assurance was given by NZ to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2003 that major reform of adoption law was planned, but it had to admit to the Committee eight years later that reform was on hold.â
Ludbrook says this failure to reform adoption laws that are discriminatory and out of touch with current attitudes is not just a theoretical issue, but has negatively impacted on many people who have experienced adoption.