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Singapore is tightening adoption laws after gay man adopts surrogate son

Singapore is tightening adoption laws after gay man adopts surrogate son

same-sex adoption ireland

The government in Singapore will change its adoption laws after a court granted adoption rights to a gay man who had a son by surrogate.

In December last year, Singapore’s highest court ruled a man who fathered a child in the United States after paying a surrogate could legally adopt the child. But the court did not allow his partner to also adopt the child because he was not the sperm donor.

Singapore does not recognize same-sex marriages and adoption rights. Homosexual relations are still punishable with up to two years in jail under section 377A of the Penal Code.

The LGBTI community celebrated the court’s ruling as a win for equal rights. But the judges made it clear they made their decision based on the child’s best interests.

‘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 last year.

Making it even tougher

Following that historic ruling, the Singapore government wants to change its laws to stop it happening again.i

Social Affairs Minister Desmond Lee reinforced the government did not support ‘the formation of family units with children of homosexual parents through institutions and processes such as adoption’.

‘Following the court judgement, MSF (Ministry for Social and Family Development) is reviewing our adoption laws and practices to see how they should be strengthened to better reflect public policy,’ Lee told Reuters.

‘While we recognise that there are increasingly diverse forms of families… the prevailing norm of society is still that of a man and a woman.’

‘It is difficult to overstate the narrowness of the decision’

LGBTI lawyers warned the landmark court ruling was almost certainly a one-off ruling in an exceptional case.

‘It is […] difficult to overstate the narrowness of the basis of the decision,’ said LGBTI rights lawyer, Remy Choo Zheng Xi, in December.

‘Those tempted to cheer the judgment as a paradigm shift of judicial activism should moderate their expectations. The judgment also re-affirms that legislative intent is front and center of the Court’s decision-making process more broadly.’