The acting head judge of the Family Court in New Zealand has said the country is lagging behind others when it comes to gay adoption.

Paul von Dadelszen said gay and lesbian couples must be allowed to adopt children together, the New Zealand Herald reports.

He added that research has shown that children with two parents of the same sex are not disadvantaged in any way.

His comments coincide with a private member’s bill passing through parliament on the issue.

The bill was introduced in the last parliament but there was not enough time to push it through.

Green Party MP Kevin Hague, who is openly gay, is now sponsoring it. It is one of 30 bills that will be voted on today to decide whether it will be next to go on the parliamentary order paper.

However, most members’ bills placed in the ballot are not drawn and never get a chance to be debated.

Under the Adoption Act, only married couples and individuals can adopt a child. This means one partner in a gay couple can adopt a child but the other has no legal rights.

This week, New Zealand also passed a bill to abolish the so-called ‘gay panic defence’ through its first reading in parliament.

The Crimes Provocation Repeal Amendment Bill was unanimously passed on Tuesday night.

If it passes into law, the bill will remove the ability for people charged with murder to claim they were provoked.

In the gay panic defence, a person charged with murder can claim that they were driven into a state of violent temporary insanity by a sexual advance from the victim.

It is also used in domestic violence cases.