The Australian state of New South Wales has opted to continue a ban on gay couples adopting.

Although a parliamentary inquiry had recommended that changing the law would be in the best interests of children, the state government said there was not enough evidence of support for it.

A change in the law would have widened the pool of adoptive parents for children in state care and would also allow children currently being fostered by gay parents a permanent home.

Community Services minister Linda Burney said yesterday that the findings of the inquiry had “some merit” but added: “Members were unable to reach a consensus, reflecting divisions on this issue in the wider community.”

Gay rights groups in the state expressed disappointment at the decision.

Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby spokeswoman Kellie McDonald told Australian Associated Press: “We believe that, politics aside, if the government’s primary concern is the best interests of the child, that they should act swiftly to remove the discrimination in the Adoption Act to ensure all children are protected under the law.”