Words: Steve Brown
A Singaporean man has won a landmark case allowing him to adopt a child he fathered through surrogacy in a landmark ruling.
The unnamed man, 46, and his same-sex partner of 13 years paid for the surrogacy process in the US but as the procedure – as well as same-sex marriages and gay sex – being illegal in Singapore, the man tried to legally adopt the child, but it was rejected leaving him with no parental rights.
In the eyes of the law, the four-year-old child is considered illegitimate as the surrogate mother and biological father are not married and as the mother is also foreign, the child is ineligible to automatically qualify for Singaporean citizenship.
When an adoption takes place, the man will have sole parental rights of the child as under Singapore law, children can only be adopted by singles or married couples.
As same-sex marriages are illegal, he would have to adopt the child as an individual.
Although his bid to adopt his child was rejected last December, the judge at the time said it was not a judgement of what ‘a family unit to be’ but instead it was about the ethics of commercial surrogacy.
Now, Singapore’s Hight Court has ruled that the man would be able to adopt his child in a landmark ruling.
Chief Justice Sunderesh Menon said: “Our decision should not be taken as an endorsement of what the appellant and his partner set out to do.”
Menon went on to say that there was “significant weight” put towards concern that the ruling would “not violate the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units”.
However, he did add that there was a “statutory imperative to promote the welfare of the child… to regard his welfare as first and paramount.”
Lawyer Ivan Cheong told the BBC: “At the end of the day, it is about what is in the child’s best interest.
“Being recognised as a legitimate child and having his long-term residential status met have always been our client’s primary concerns.”