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Court ruling on gay father's adoption appeal: MSF says to consider if policies need to be reviewed

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Monday (Dec 17) said that it respects the High Court's ruling to allow a gay Singaporean father to adopt his biological son, but that the ministry will consider if the relevant policies need to be reviewed.

MSF's comments come after the man, a 46-year-old pathologist,on Monday won the right to adopt his five-year-old biological son who was born via a surrogate in the United States, in a landmark court ruling for Singapore.

READ: Gay father permitted to adopt biological son born via surrogacy, in first for Singapore

"MSF respects the court’s decision," said an MSF spokesperson. "We will study the Grounds of Decision carefully, and consider if the relevant policies and legislation need to be reviewed and further strengthened."

The pathologist is in a long-term relationship with another man. Sex between men is criminal in Singapore and same-sex marriages are not legally recognised.

After the boy was born in the United States, he was brought back to Singapore and raised by the man and his male partner.

In 2014, the biological father applied as a single parent to adopt the child, but his application was dismissed last year by a district judge. Monday's decision overturns this earlier ruling, after the man appealed the district judge's ruling.

READ: Father's bid to adopt surrogate son dismissed 'on policy grounds': MSF

MSF said on Monday that it had opposed the man's appeal as the adoption would be "contrary to public policy".

"MSF had opposed the appeal because, amongst others, the adoption would be contrary to public policy against the formation of same-sex family units," said the MSF spokesperson. "The applicant had also gone overseas for surrogacy to form a single parent household, when surrogacy is not permitted in Singapore.

"We encourage parenthood within marriage, as this is the norm in our society," said the spokesperson. "We do not support the formation of same-sex family units."

The ministry notes that the High Court recognised the existence of both such policies, added the spokesperson.
"However, the court concluded with not insignificant difficulty that an adoption order ought to be made in this case because it would advance the child’s welfare, which the court found is 'first and paramount'," the spokesperson said. 

"It took the view that an adoption order would make the child a legitimate child with the social acceptance attached to this status, and this would have some positive social, psychological and emotional impact on the child."

All adoptions are decided by the court on a case-by-case basis, added the ministry.

In response to Channel NewsAsia's queries, the ministry said that its director of social welfare looks into an average of 360 adoption applications each year.

Sole applicants make up less than 10 per cent of those adoption applications, said the ministry.

It added that this is the first adoption application by someone who has "openly declared himself to be homosexual and living with his same-sex partner".

Source: CNA/nc(aj)


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