SINGAPORE — Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee reiterated the Government’s policy against the formation of same-sex family units, saying it may be harder in future for gay couples seeking to adopt a child to “argue that they did not intentionally set out” to violate this policy.
This is particularly so now that a landmark judgment has been published by the High Court earlier this week.
The High Court had on Monday (Dec 17) allowed a gay Singaporean doctor to adopt his five-year-old biological son born in the United States through a surrogate mother.
In a press statement on Wednesday, Mr Lee noted that since the ruling, “concerns have been raised about the implications of this case and whether it sets a precedent for the formation of same-sex families in Singapore”.
Delivering the three-judge panel’s decision, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that granting the adoption order in this case would “violate the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units”, but this concern is not powerful enough to ignore the need to promote the welfare of the child and regard it as paramount.
In his statement, Mr Lee noted that the judges recognised that granting the adoption would violate the public policy, but they decided to do so “after balancing this against the interests of the child’s welfare”.
The High Court had stressed that the decision was “based on the particular facts of this case”, and Mr Lee pointed out that the judges found there was a lack of evidence to show that the applicant had set out to deliberately go against the policy.
“After the publication of this judgment, since the courts have recognised that the adoption violates the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units, it may be harder for future applicants doing the same to argue that they did not intentionally set out to do so,” Mr Lee said.
Before deciding its next steps, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will be studying the grounds of decision carefully and it will “review our adoption laws and related policies, to see if they should be amended and further strengthened”, he added.
Mr Lee assured the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that “they have a place in Singapore society”.
“At the same time, the Government supports and encourages parenthood within marriage, and does not support the formation of same-sex family units,” he reiterated. “This is the position that MSF takes in assessing adoption applications. The High Court has recognised that this public policy is a relevant consideration in adoption proceedings.”