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Desmond Lee warns that gay couples seeking to adopt may find it harder to convince courts after this week’s landmark decision




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History was made this week through a landmark decision wherein Singapore’s High Court allowed a doctor to adopt his biological son who had been conceived through a surrogate in the United States. The young boy is now five years old.

However, on the heels of this decision Desmond Lee, the country’s Social and Family Development Minister, said that in the future, it might become harder for gay couples who want to adopt a child to use the argument that they did not deliberately intend to violate the nation’s policies.

Lee released a press statement on Wednesday, saying “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”.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon had said that while allowing the adoption would “violate the public policy against the formation of same-sex family units,” the child’s wellbeing and needs superseded this concern.

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The decision of the High Court been “based on the particular facts of this case” and Lee emphasized that the three judges who sat on the panel that made the decision saw a lack of proof that the boy’s father had intended to go against the policy on purpose.

He said, “After the publication of this judgment since the courts have recognized 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.”

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is set to go over the grounds of the High Courts decision. Furthermore, Lee said the MSF would “review our adoption laws and related policies, to see if they should be amended and further strengthened.”

However, while he said “LGBT persons have a place in Singapore society,” but “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 recognized that this public policy is a relevant consideration in adoption proceedings.”

Read related: Family’s Future Is Uncertain in Singapore’s Gay Surrogacy Adoption Case

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