New Zealand’s 50-year-old adoption laws are to be debated by parliament in order to potentially bring about changes that would allow same-sex couples to adopt.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern’s Care of Children Law Reform Bill was chosen yesterday from the member’s ballot.

Ms Ardern said her bill was based on recommendations made by the Law Commission a decade ago.

Under current New Zealand law, only married couples and single people – which includes LGBT single people – are allowed to adopt. Couples in civil unions cannot adopt.

Parliament is already considering Labour MP Louisa Wall’s bill to legalise gay marriage, which passed its first reading this week.

Speaking to Stuff.co.nz, Ms Ardern said: “What Louisa’s bill does is enable gay couples to adopt because they would be considered spouses. What mine does is make it more fit for purpose for all families who are using it.

“At the moment our adoption laws are based on closed adoptions. The people on the adoption order are the only people who maintain a relationship with that child.

“So the basic idea is to change the way we make decisions so the child is at the centre of everything and so it allows us to make decisions in their best interests.”

Ms Wall’s bill will now progress onto the select committee stage, after passing with a majority of 80 votes to 40.

It will remain with the select committee for a period of around six months, after which a decision will be made on whether or not it is passed.