Approximately 200 people were present in Sydney’s New South Wales (NSW) Parliament House earlier today for a Council of Churches meeting and a public protest against the same-sex adoption bill.

Speaking at the meeting, Liberal MP David Clarke questioned why same-sex adoption was back on the political agenda, adding that he believed there was a Greens-Labour deal over the issue, as Labour would need Green voter preferences when the polls open in March 2011.

According to AAP, NSW’s premier Kristina Keneally reportedly dismissed Mr Clarke’s allegations as “ridiculous”, likewise his assertion that the issue had made children “pawns in a bigger power game”.

A spokesperson for Ms Keneally said: “Kristina will be speaking on the bill, and talking about her decision to support it in the context of her Christian faith.

“Specifically [she] will outline why, as a Christian, she can support this bill in good conscience.”

Greens MP John Kay responded: “Like so much of the propaganda from the opponents of same-sex adoption, allegations of a Greens-Labor deal are nonsense.

“Premier Keneally allowed her MPs a conscience vote on the bill because any other path would have opened up yawning chasms in her party.”

The bill, which was introduced to parliament by independent MP Clover Moore back in June, is to be debated in the lower house on Thursday. Mr Clarke said: “Every child, where possible, should have a mother and a father and this legislation is going to deprive many children in the future. This has nothing to do with religion . . . this has to do with morality and the right of the child.”

Another opponent of the bill, Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile, added: “Is this really an ideological issue or homosexuals demanding yet another human right?”

Among the bill’s supporters are the Benevolent Society charity and UnitingCare Burnside, one of the largest child and welfare agencies in NSW.

Maree Walk, acting CEO of the Benevolent Society, said last week: “Potential adoptive parents should be assessed on the basis of their suitability to parent, not their sexual orientation.”