Singapore may tighten adoption law after gay father adopted son

The Ministry for Social and Family Development said it would review adoption laws to see how they should be strengthened to better reflect public policy.

Singapore is looking to strengthen its adoption laws after a gay man won an appeal to legally adopt his biological son in a landmark court ruling last year, its social affairs minister said on Monday.

The man, after learning he was unlikely to be able to adopt a child in Singapore as a gay man, paid $200,000 for a woman to carry his child through in-vitro fertilization in the United States.

A court in 2017 rejected an initial bid by the man, who is in a homosexual relationship with a partner, to legally adopt his son. The conservative city-state’s government does not support the formation of same-sex families.

However, the high court overturned the ruling in December on the grounds of the child’s welfare, even though it said it put “significant weight to the concern not to violate the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units.”

The minister, Desmond Lee, reiterated that in parliament, saying 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 judgment, 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 said.

Singapore, which is trying to boost its low fertility rate, offers generous incentives for couples to have babies but in-vitro fertilization is allowed only for married couples and surrogacy services are not available for anyone.

Lee said government policy was not to intrude or interfere with the private lives of Singaporeans, including homosexuals, and they are entitled to private lives of their choosing.

“While we recognize that there are increasingly diverse forms of families … the prevailing norm of society is still that of a man and a woman,” he said.

Singapore maintains a colonial-era law banning gay sex although prosecutions are rare.

An online survey conducted last year showed a slim majority of Singaporeans still support the law.