LGBT adoption

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LGBT adoption is the adoption of children by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. This may be in the form of a joint adoption by a same-sex couple, adoption by one partner of a same-sex couple of the other's biological child (step-parent adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person.

Adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 16 countries and in some territories. Opponents of LGBT adoption question whether same-sex couples have the ability to be adequate parents (see LGBT parenting) while other opponents question whether Natural Law implies that children of adoption possess a natural right to be raised by heterosexual parents. Since constitutions and statutes usually fail to address the adoption rights of LGBT persons, judicial decisions often determine whether they can serve as parents either individually or as couples.

LGBT parenting[edit]

Male same-sex couple with a child.
Main article: LGBT parenting

The existing body of research on outcomes for children with LGBT parents includes limited studies that consider the specific case of adoption. Moreover, where studies do mention adoption they often fail to distinguish between outcomes for unrelated children versus those in their original family or step-families, causing research on the more general case of LGBT parenting to be used to counter the claims of LGBT-adoption opponents.[1] One study has addressed the question directly, evaluating the outcomes of adoptees less than 3-years old who had been placed in one of 56 lesbian and gay households since infancy. Despite the small sample and the fact that the children have yet to become aware of their adoption status or the dynamics of gender development, the study found no significant associations between parental sexual orientation and child adjustment, making the results consistent with notions that two parents of the same gender can be capable parents and that parental sexual orientation is not related to parenting skill or child adjustment. The findings point to the positive capabilities of lesbian and gay couples as adoptive parents.[2]

Objections to and support for LGBT adoption[edit]

Adoption of children by LGBT people is an issue of active debate. In the United States, for example, legislation to stop the practice has been introduced in many jurisdictions; such efforts have largely been defeated. There is agreement between the debating parties, however, that the welfare of children alone should dictate policy.[1] Supporters of LGBT adoption suggest that many children are in need of homes and claim that since parenting ability is unrelated to sexual orientation, the law should allow them to adopt children.[1] Opponents, on the other hand, suggest that the alleged greater prevalence of depression, drug use, promiscuity and suicide among homosexuals (and alleged greater prevalence of domestic violence) might affect children [3] or that the absence of male and female role models during a child's development could cause maladjustment.[4] Catholic Answers, a Catholic religious group, in its 2004 report on gay marriage addressed parenting by homosexual partners via adoption or artificial insemination. It pointed to studies finding higher than average abuse rates among heterosexual stepparent families compared with same-sex parents.[5][6] The American Psychological Association, however, notes that an ongoing longitudinal study found that none of the lesbian mothers had abused their children. It states that fears of a heightened risk of sexual abuse by gay parents are not supported by research.[7]

Several professional organizations have made statements in defense of adoption by same-sex couples. The American Psychological Association has supported adoption by same-sex couples, citing social prejudice as harming the psychological health of lesbians and gays while noting there is no evidence that their parenting causes harm.[8][9][10] The American Medical Association has issued a similar position supporting second parent adoption by same-sex partner, stating that lack of formal recognition can cause health-care disparities for children of same-sex parents.[11]

Britain's last Catholic adoption society announced that it would stop finding homes for children if forced by legislation to place children with same-sex couples.[12] The Muslim Council of Britain also sided with Catholic adoption agencies on this issue. [13] Catholic Charities of Boston also ended its founding mission of adoption work rather than comply with state laws conflicting with its religious practices.[14]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center found a close divide on gay adoption among the United States public, while a 2007 poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp. said 57% of respondents felt gays should have the right to adopt and 40% said they should not.[15] In the United Kingdom in 2007, 64% of people said they thought gay couples should be allowed to adopt and 32% said they should not. 55% of respondents thought that male couples should be able to adopt and 59% of people thought that lesbian couples should be able to adopt.[16] In Brazil, a 2010 poll asked, "Do you support or oppose allowing gay couples to adopt children?" The poll found that 51% opposed adoption by same-sex couples and 39% supported it.[17] An opinion poll conducted in late 2006 at the request of the European Commission indicated that Polish public opinion was generally opposed to both same-sex marriage and to adoption by gay couples. The Eurobarometer 66[18] poll found that 74% of Poles were opposed to same-sex marriage and 89% opposed adoption by same-sex couples.

Legal status by country/jurisdiction[edit]

Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples around the world.
  Joint adoption
  Step-child adoption
  LGBT individuals explicitly allowed
See file info for questionable cases.

Full joint adoption by same-sex couples is currently legal in the following countries:

Full joint adoption by same-sex couples is currently legal in the following subnational jurisdictions:

The following countries permit stepchild-adoption in which the partner in a registered partnership (or in an unregistered cohabitation in Israel and Slovenia) can adopt the natural, and in some cases the adopted, child of his or her partner:

The following jurisdictions permit "stepchild-adoption" in which one partner can adopt the natural (or sometimes even adopted) child of his or her partner:


South Africa[edit]

South Africa is the only African country to allow joint adoption by same-sex couples. The 2002 decision of the Constitutional Court in the case of Du Toit v Minister of Welfare and Population Development amended the Child Care Act, 1983 to allow both joint adoption and stepparent adoption by "permanent same-sex life partners".[66] The Child Care Act has since been replaced by the Children's Act, 2005, which allows joint adoption by "partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership", whether same- or opposite-sex, and stepparent adoption by a person who is the "permanent domestic life-partner" of the child's current parent.[67] Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2006, and is equivalent to opposite-sex marriage for all purposes, including adoption.


Western Asia[edit]

LGBT adoption rights in Western Asia are currently being debated over yet the rights have changed for the better. Most places still illegalize even just marriage, so adoption is out of the question, whilst some, very few, countries, allow almost all.[68] An example is Israel who allows marriage, serving in the military, and adoption, but it is the only country to legalize adoption as all of the other countries state that even marriage is just illegal and so is everything else. As you can see on the right the image shows the legal status of adoption with same sex couples in Egypt and part of Western Asia and almost all of the area has either illegal homosexuality or unavailable information.


Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples in part of West Asia and in Egypt
  Gay adoption legal
  Homosexuality illegal

A January 2005 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court allowed stepchild adoptions for same-sex couples. Israel previously allowed limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents.[69] Then in February 2008, a court in Israel ruled that same-sex couples are now permitted to adopt a child even if that child is not biologically related to either parent.[70] This marked a watershed in granting equal rights to all gay people in Israel.[70] isRealli, the official blog of the State of Israel, frequently publishes updates on gay adoption news in Israel. The site also has a complete timeline of gay rights milestones in Israel.


Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples in Europe
  Gay adoption legal
  Stepparent adoption legal

In February 2006, France's Court of Cassation ruled that both partners in a same-sex relationship can have parental rights over one partner's biological child. The result came from a case where a woman tried to give parental rights of her two daughters to her partner, with whom she was in a civil union.[71] In the case of adoption, however, in February 2007, the same court ruled against a lesbian couple where one partner tried to adopt the child of the other partner. The court stated that the woman's partner cannot be recognized unless the mother withdrew her own parental rights.[72][73] On 17 May 2013, French President François Hollande signed into law the bill that opened marriage and adoption rights linked to it for same sex couples.[74]

In 1998, a nursery school teacher from Lons-le-Saunier, living as a couple with another woman, had applied for an authorization to adopt a child from the département (local government) of Jura. The adoption board recommended against the authorization because the child would lack a paternal reference, and thus the president of the département ruled against the authorization.[75] The case was appealed before the administrative courts and ended before the Council of State, acting as supreme administrative court, which ruled against the woman.[76] The European Court of Human Rights concluded that these actions and this ruling were a violation of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights taken in conjunction with Article 8.[75][77]

On 2 June 2006, the Icelandic Parliament unanimously passed a proposal accepting adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment for same-sex couples on the same basis as heterosexual couples. The law went into effect on 27 June 2006.

In Bulgaria, according to the Ministry of Justice the laws regarding adoption "lack a norm, concerning the sexual orientation of the individuals". Therefore, a single gay person or same-sex couples may adopt.[78][79]

On 17 May 2013, the Portuguese parliament approved a bill in first reading allowing "co-adoption" of the biological or adopted child of the same-sex spouse or partner, where that spouse or partner is the only legally recognized parent of the child (e.g. the mother with the natural father not being registered). However, in October 2013 members of parliament opposed to the bill proposed a referendum on the issue and killed a motion to have the second vote in the plenary;[80][81] the motion on the possible referendum was then considered,[82] but the Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional.[83] On 14 March 2014, the original bill was rejected in second reading.[81]

North America[edit]

Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples in North America.
  Joint adoption and stepparent adoption legal
  Stepparent adoption legal
  Joint adoption and/or stepparent adoption illegal


In Canada, adoption by same-sex couples is legal in every province and territory.[22][23][24][25][26]


In Mexico City, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District passed legislation on 21 December 2009 enabling same-sex couples to adopt children.[84] Eight days later, Head of Government ("Mayor") Marcelo Ebrard signed the bill into law, which officially took effect on 4 March 2010.[50][85]

On 24 November 2011, the Coahuila Supreme Court struck down the state's law barring same-sex couples from adopting, urging the state's legislature to amend the adoption law as soon as possible.[86] On 12 February 2014, the state's congress overwhelmingly approved the measure more than two years following the supreme court decision.[51]

United States[edit]



LGBT adoption rights in Australia.
  Joint adoption and stepparent adoption legal
  Stepparent adoption legal
  LGBT Foster parenting only
  Joint adoption and stepparent adoption illegal

In Australia, same-sex adoption is legal in the Australian Capital Territory,[87] Western Australia,[88] New South Wales[46] and Tasmania.[89] The lesbian co-mother or gay co-father(s) can apply to the Family Court of Australia for a parenting order, as 'other people significant to the care, welfare and development' of the child. But the lesbian co-mother and gay co-father(s) will be treated in the same way as a social parent is treated under the law; they will not be treated in the same way as a birth parent.[90] In May 2007, the Victorian Law Reform Commission in Victoria released its final report recommending that the laws be modified to allow same sex couples to adopt children have not been implemented yet, while all other recommendations have been implemented.[91]

New Zealand[edit]

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, which came into force on 19 August 2013, allowed same-sex marriage and permited married same-sex couples to jointly adopt children. Previously, an LGBT individual was able to adopt children, but same-sex couples could not adopt jointly.[92]

In New Zealand, preliminary New Zealand Law Commission reports and white papers had previously raised the issue, while Metiria Turei, a Green Party List MP raised the issue in late May 2006.[citation needed] In February 2005, the Greens suggested that an adoption law reform clause should be added to the Relationships (Statutory References) Act 2005, which equalized heterosexual, lesbian and gay spousal status in New Zealand law and regulatory policy except for adoption. However, this was ultimately rendered irrelevant by the advent of same-sex marriage in New Zealand on 17 April 2013. As a consequence of this legislation, married same-sex couples will also be able to become adoptive parents. An additional Adoption Reform Bill seeks to extend such rights to civil unions in New Zealand and de facto couples.

South America[edit]

Legal status of adoption by Same sex couples in South America
  Gay adoption legal
  Stepparent adoption legal
  Gay adoption illegal
  Homosexuality illegal

In Argentina, Brazil, French Guiana, and Uruguay same-sex couples can jointly adopt. A government-sponspored adoption law in Uruguay allowing LGBT adoption was approved by the lower house on 28 August 2009, and by the Senate on 9 September 2009. In October 2009, the law was signed by President and took effect.[44] According to Equipos Mori Poll's, 53% of Uruguayans are opposed to same sex adoption against 39% that support it. Interconsult's Poll made in 2008 says that 49% are opposed to same sex adoption against 35% that support it.[43][93]

Summary of laws by jurisdiction[edit]

European laws on adoption by same-sex couples
CountryLGBT individual may petition to adoptSame-sex couple may jointly petitionSame-sex partner may petition to adopt partner's childSame-sex couples are allowed to foster or stepchild foster
AustriaYesNoYesYes (except state of Lower Austria)
Czech RepublicYesNoNoNo (but exceptions are made)[94]
GermanyYesNo (but the child adopted by one partner can later be adopted by the other as well)YesYes
ItalyYes (single people may adopt only in exceptional circumstances, independently of their sexual orientation)NoNoNo (since same-sex couples are not recognized but singles can foster)
LithuaniaNo (only in exceptional circumstances)NoNoNo
LuxembourgYesNo (as of 1 January 2015: Yes)No (as of 1 January 2015: Yes) ?
MaltaYes[95]Yes ? ?
SloveniaYesNoYesNo (but singles can foster)
United KingdomYesYesYesYes
Latin American and Caribbean laws on adoption by same-sex couples
Same-sex couple joint petitionLGBT individual adoptionSame-sex stepparent adoption
French GuianaYesYesYes
GuyanaNo (Gay sex illegal)No (Gay sex illegal)No (Gay sex illegal)
BelizeNo (Gay sex illegal)No (Gay sex illegal)No (Gay sex illegal)
Puerto RicoNoYesNo
EcuadorNo (constitutional ban)No (constitutional ban)No (constitutional ban)
HondurasNo (constitutional ban)No (constitutional ban)No (constitutional ban)
El SalvadorNoNoNo
Dominican RepublicNoNoNo
Costa RicaNoYesNo
MexicoYes (only Mexico City and Coahuila)YesYes (only Mexico City and Coahuila)
Australasian laws on adoption by same-sex couples
Same-sex couple joint petitionLGBT individual adoptionSame-sex stepparent adoption
New South WalesYes[46]YesYes[46]
Northern TerritoryNoOnly in exceptional circumstancesNo
QueenslandNo (under review since 2009)YesNo
South AustraliaNo (under review since 2008)NoNo
VictoriaNo (under review since 2007)YesYes
Western AustraliaYesYesYes
Norfolk IslandYesYesYes
New ZealandYesYesYes


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Charlotte Patterson, et. al, "Adolescents with Same-Sex Parents: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, 7 November 2007, pg. 2
  2. ^ "Parenting and Child Development in Adoptive Families: Does Parental Sexual Orientation Matter?" (PDF). Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  3. ^ William Satetan,Adopting Premises, Slate, 7 February 2002
  4. ^ "Gordon Moyes". Gordon Moyes. 26 February 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Special Report: Gay Marriage". Catholic Answers. 2004. note 63 
  6. ^ Is the "Cinderella Effect" Controversial?[dead link]
  7. ^ Lesbian & Gay Parenting. Page 12.
  8. ^ Paige, R. U. (2005). "Proceedings of the American Psychological Association, Incorporated, for the legislative year 2004. Minutes of the meeting of the Council of Representatives 28 & 30 July 2004". Honolulu, HI. Retrieved 18 November 2004.  (To be published in Volume 60, Issue Number 5 of the American Psychologist.)
  9. ^ "Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Marriage", Study finds gay moms equally-good parents, July 2004.
  10. ^ "Position Statement: Adoption and Co-parenting of Children by Same-sex Couples", American Psychological Association, November 2002 (archived from [1]).
  11. ^ "H-60.940 Partner Co-Adoption, H-65.973 Health Care Disparities in Same-Sex Partner Households "AMA Policy regarding sexual orientation"". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  12. ^ "Times Online 3 March 2010 Catholic adoption agency seeks exemption on gay adoption regulations". London: 23 June 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Muslims back Catholics over gay adoption
  14. ^ Patricia Wen (11 March 2006). "Catholic Charities stuns state, ends adoptions Gay issue stirred move by agency". Boston Globe. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "McCain blasted for gay adoption opposition". USA Today. 15 July 2008. 
  16. ^ Gay Adoption 28 January 2007 (28 January 2007). "UK Polling Report". UK Polling Report. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  17. ^ (07/22/10) (21 May 2010). "Half of Brazilians Reject Adoption by Gay Couples | Angus Reid Public Opinion". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  18. ^ Retrieved 2 November 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "Argentina Passes Gay Marriage Law". 15 July 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
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  22. ^ a b Mary C. Hurley (31 May 2007). "Sexual Orientation and Legal Rights". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
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  50. ^ a b "Mexico City’s gay marriage law takes effect". MSNBC. Associated Press. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010. 
  51. ^ a b (Spanish) Jesús Castro (12 February 2014). "Ya pueden parejas gay adoptar en Coahuila; PAN vota en contra". Vanguardia. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  52. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Human Rights Campaign (2008). "Adoption Laws: State by State". Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  53. ^ "How To Adopt". 1 August 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  54. ^ Robert Crooks, Karla Baur. Our sexuality. 10th Edition. Cengage Learning, 2008. p. 520 (p. 255). ISBN 0-495-09554-0.
  55. ^ "Greenwood and Fink (Providence, RI) – all legal services for same-sex adopting couples and more". Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
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  57. ^ "Crte avala adopción a pareja de mujeres que reclamaban derecho". Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  58. ^ Ice News (23 May 2009). "Finland extends same-sex adoption rules". Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
  59. ^ a b Daniel Ottosson (November 2006). "LGBT world legal wrap up survey". International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). Retrieved 21 January 2010. 
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  61. ^ (Danish) "Order on entry into force in Greenland of the Registered Partnership Act". Government of Greenland. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  62. ^ "Israel sanctions overseas gay adoption". United Press International. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2010. 
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  65. ^ (Estonian) "Kooseluseadus". Riigikogu. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  66. ^ "Lesbians, gays can adopt children". news24. 10 September 2002. Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  67. ^ Donelly, Lynley (2008). "A Media Guide to the Children's Act 38 of 2005". Centre for Child Law; Media Monitoring Project. p. 40. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  68. ^ Craft, Carrie. [< "Gay Adoption Basics"]. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
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  70. ^ a b AG okays wider adoption rights for same-sex couples, By Yuval Yoaz, 12 February 2008.
  71. ^ Ruling of the Court of Cassation, first civil chamber, on recourse 04-17090
  72. ^ "04-15676" (in French). Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  73. ^ "06-15647" (in French). Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  74. ^ "French President Signs Gay Marriage Into Law". 18 May 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  75. ^ a b Ruling in E.B. v. France from the European Court of Human Rights
  76. ^ Council of State (France), ruling 230533
  77. ^ BBC, France chided over gay adoption, 22 January 2008
  78. ^ "Frequently asked question - adoptions from Bulgaria". Family National Association. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  79. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  80. ^ (Portuguese) Conservadores barram direito de adoção a casais gays
  81. ^ a b (Portuguese) Assambleia da República - Status of Bill 278/XII
  82. ^ (Portuguese) Assambleia da República - Status of Draft Resolution 857/XII
  83. ^ (Portuguese) Decision 176/2014
  84. ^ Tracy Wilkinson (22 December 2009). "Mexico City moves to legalize same-sex marriage". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  85. ^ Tracy Wilkinson (29 December 2009). "Gay marriage closer to reality in Mexico". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  86. ^ (Spanish) José Reyes (28 November 2011). "Adopción gay será posible en Coahuila". Vanguardia. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  87. ^ "ADOPTION ACT 1994 – SECT 39 Criteria for application". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  88. ^ "Australian state votes for adoption by same-sex couples". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 2 September 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  89. ^ a b c "Tasmanian Upper House passes gay adoption bill - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
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  95. ^ Calleja, Claudia (16 January 2013). "Consensus over gay adoption welcomed". Times of Malta. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 

External links[edit]