The ruling is the first of its kind. The child was born in the United States after an assisted reproduction process using semen from one of the two men. The biological father can adopt the child as a single parent. In Singapore, the demands of the homosexual community have fuelled a heated debate. The court noted that its ruling was not influenced by “sympathies for the position of either party”.
Singapore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Singapore’s High Court issued a landmark ruling today allowing a gay couple to adopt a five-year-old boy, conceived in the United States by a surrogate mother. In doing so, the three-judge panel led by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon overturned a lower court decision last year against the adoption bid.
In its judgment, the panel said that the adoption should go through to “increase the child’s prospects of acquiring Singapore citizenship and securing long-term residence in Singapore”.
The judgment noted the court considered Singapore’s public policy on same-sex families and its relation to this case as well as any policy violation if an adoption order was made. Yet neither reason was “sufficiently powerful to enable us to ignore the statutory imperative to promote the welfare of the child and, indeed, to regard his welfare as first and paramount”, the judgment said.
The judges stressed their decision was not an endorsement of the couple’s actions or a result of “sympathies for the position of either party”.
The couple, two 45-year-old Singaporeans, James and Shawn (not their real names), had applied to adopt the child (Noel) in December 2014, a year after his birth in the United States to a surrogate mother following an assisted reproduction process that used the semen of one of the two men.
Until now the child was a US citizen and lived in Singapore with a dependent’s pass, which had to be renewed every six months by leaving the country. By virtue of the sentence, the biological father can now adopt the child as a single parent.
In recent months, the claims of Singapore’s gay community have fuelled a heated debate among Singaporeans, particularly regarding Section 377A of the Penal Code (Outrages on decency), which was introduced in 1938, criminalises sex between men.
Following a recent ruling by the Indian Supreme Court that decriminalised homosexual sex, the section in the Singapore penal code is again questioned in the island nation by those who want it repealed in the name of human rights. Conversely, those who see today’s ruling as a threat to Singaporean families and society want to maintain the status quo.