The High Court of Singapore made a surprising ruling that allowed a same-sex couple to adopt their child who was conceived through surrogacy in the United States, according to South China Morning Post. The couple was denied the right to adopt last year.
A three-judge panel led by Sundaresh Menon ruled that the adoption bid should go through as it would “increase the child’s prospects of acquiring Singapore citizenship and securing long-term residence in Singapore."
The court considered Singapore's public policy on same-sex families as well as any violation regarding any adoption order being made, but the child's welfare took precedence over the reasons. However, the judges did note that the decision was not an endorsement of gay couples adopting.
Still, the decision is Singapore's first real recognition of same-sex families. The couple, "James" and "Shawn", applied for the adoption of their son, Noel, in 2014 when he was about a year old. The actual names of the couple have not been revealed.
Noel was born via a surrogate mother in the United States after using an assisted reproduction process that uses James' sperm. Noel is an American citizen who is living in Singapore on a dependent's pass, which has to be renewed every six months by making Noel leave the country.
This new ruling will allow James to adopt Noel as a single father and will give him sole rights and responsibility over his son, including applying for Singaporean citizenship for him. The James and Shawn have been dating since 1998 and have been living together since 2005.
James commented on the fight for the right to adopt Noel, saying that it was particularly arduous but is thankful that he can finally adopt his own son. He hopes that by adopting Noel that the boy can stay in Singapore with his family.
The court found that there is a public policy that is in favor of parenthood within James and Shawn's marriage and that the child's welfare would be better if he were adopted.
The court also found that there is no public policy against surrogacy.
While the adoption wasn't done for the benefit of the couple but rather for the benefit of the child, it is still arguably a good thing, as Singapore, the city-state in which gay sex is illegal, recognizes that a family does not have to have a mother and a father to properly raise a child. By validating same-sex adoption, Singapore is one step closer to equality for LGBTQ people.
But there's still so much further to go.