Singapore High Court allows gay man to adopt biological son
Singapore’s High Court has ruled in favour of a gay doctor seeking to adopt his biological son, in a landmark ruling in the socially conservative city-state.
- The ruling overturns a 2017 decision denying the man custody of the child
- The man used IVF, a process banned in Singapore for unmarried couples
- Consenting sex between adult men in Singapore carries a two-year jail sentence
The decision overturns a 2017 ruling in which a court said the man could not adopt the boy because he was born by a surrogate in the United States through in vitro fertilisation — a procedure not available to unmarried couples in Singapore.
“We attribute significant weight to the concern not to violate the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units on account of its rational connection to the present dispute and the degree to which this policy would be violated should an adoption order be made,” Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said.
“However … we think that neither of these reasons is sufficiently powerful to enable us to ignore the statutory imperative to promote the welfare of the child.”
The man, in a homosexual relationship with a partner, paid $200,000 for a woman in the US to carry his child after he learned he was unlikely to be able to adopt in Singapore as a gay man.
The court ruling comes amid a renewed public push to review Singapore’s colonial-era law under which sex between consenting males carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
Section 377A of the country’s penal code prohibits oral or anal sex between consenting homosexuals, but an amendment in 2007 made it legal for heterosexuals.
Many Commonwealth member states in Africa carry out punitive applications of Imperial sodomy laws. (Reuters: Jessica Rinaldi)
There is growing pressure within the Commonwealth to rid states of British statutes that criminalise homosexuality, especially in countries like Singapore that did not criminalise it until the British arrived.
India’s Supreme Court has repealed a similar law, while British Prime Minister Theresa May apologised for the legal legacy at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this year.