Singapore court rules gay man can adopt his surrogate child

A court in Singapore has ruled that a gay man will be allowed to adopt a son he fathered through a surrogate in the United States. 

Monday’s landmark ruling overturns an earlier decision last year that rejected the 46-year-old pathologist’s request for legal parental rights to his biological child, who is now five. 

The man, who cannot be named, and his partner of 13 years, who is also 46, had paid £159,000 for the process to be carried out in the US as it is illegal in the Asian city state. Socially conservative Singapore has also outlawed gay sex and does not recognise same-sex marriages. 

The child in question is considered illegitimate under Singaporean law as the surrogate mother and the father are not married. 

However, even though the surrogate mother, based in Pennsylvania, waived her rights under the surrogate deal, the father’s adoption bid was dismissed by Shobha Nair, a district judge, last December. The judge stated that her ruling was based on the ethics of commercial surrogacy.  

The court said that the man had attempted to walk “through the back door of the system when the front door was firmly shut”.

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In its ruling on Monday, the three-judge appeal court stressed that its reversal of the decision was based “on the particular facts of the case and should not be taken as an endorsement of what the appellant and his partner set out to do,” reported the Straits Times. 

“Our decision was reached through an application of the law as we understood it to be, and not on the basis of our sympathies for the position of either party,” wrote Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon. 

The court said it had reached its decision “with not insignificant difficulty” in balancing the welfare of the child with the “public policy against the formation of same-sex family units.”

The biological father will have sole parental rights of the child when the adoption takes place. 

The ruling has given a boost to a public campaign to overturn Singapore’s colonial-era law under which sex between consenting males carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail. A similar law, also dating back to the British Empire, was repealed in India earlier this year.