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Response to High Court's Decision on Adoption Appeal

On Monday (17 December 2018), the High Court granted a single man’s appeal to adopt his biological child. The applicant was in a relationship with another man, and will raise the boy with his partner, in a same-sex parent household. The boy was conceived and born overseas as a result of a commercial surrogate arrangement, which would not have been permitted in Singapore. 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.

The Court stated that they had reached their decision in this case “with not insignificant difficulty”.  The judges recognised that granting the adoption would go against our public policy against the formation of same-sex family units. However, they decided to grant the adoption after balancing this against the interests of the child’s welfare. The Court emphasised that their decision was based on the particular facts of this case. The Court also said that there was a lack of evidence to show that the applicant had set out to deliberately violate the relevant public policy. After the publication of this judgement, 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.

LGBT persons 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. 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.  

MSF is studying the Grounds of Decision carefully before deciding on the next steps. We will review our adoption laws and related policies, to see if they should be amended and further strengthened.

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Published On Wed, Dec 19, 2018
Last Reviewed On Thu, Dec 20, 2018

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