A gay Singaporean can adopt his son fathered through a surrogate abroad, the city-state’s highest court ruled on Monday (17 December).
The man and his partner tried to legally adopt the child last year. But, the Family Justice Courts ruled against their petition.
Singapore does not recognize same-sex marriages and adoption rights. In fact, gay sex is still punishable with up to two years in jail. Authorities rarely enforce the law, however.
The four-year-old child will now be eligible for citizenship in Singapore, according to the South China Morning Post.
The court, however, granted custody to only one man in the couple, the sperm donor.
The man said he felt relieved, according to the South China Morning Post.
‘The fight to raise our family in Singapore has been a long and difficult journey’ he reportedly said.
Singapore’s LGBTI community were quick to celebrate the judgement as a win for LGBTI rights.
But, the court made it clear it was acting purely in the best interests of the child.
‘Our decision should not be taken as an endorsement of what the appellant and his partner set out to do’ said Chief Justice Sunderesh Menon, according to the BBC.
The court recognized concern the ruling would ‘not violate the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units’ the news organization reported.
’Not wide significance’
Singapore Lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam told Gay Star News the case did not have wide significance.
He said the high court had ruled against the lower court which ‘may have placed too much weight on what it perceived to be in the public interest and not put the child’s interests first’.
‘But, we should be cautious against reading too much into the case’ Thuraisingam said.
Thuraisingam is representing Jonathan Ong in a case against the government over Singapore’s anti-gay law.
Ong and his lawyer argue Section 377A of the Penal Code is unconstitutional.
Debate over the colonial-era law has rocked the city-state since India dismantled a similar rights-abusing law in September.