Rights of same-sex parents: legal adoption in only a minority of countries around the world

Rights of same-sex parents: legal adoption in only a minority of countries around the world

Once the law is promulgated in Greece, there will be 37 countries where same-sex adoptions are legal, or less than 20% of the 193 United Nations member states. kate_sept2004/Getty Images

In Greece, deputies adopted this Thursday, February 15, 2024, the bill authorizing homosexual marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, a legal filiation only in a minority of countries around the world.

Once the law is promulgated in Greece, there will be 37 countries where same-sex adoptions are legal, or less than 20% of the 193 member states of the United Nations, according to the International Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Asian People. intersex (Ilga). This organization, which is an authority on the subject, notes two forms of adoption: joint adoption by the two members of the couple and adoption by the "second parent" who is not the biological parent of the child, in the case of medically assisted procreation (MAP) for example.

The map of countries which recognize this right generally overlaps with that of countries which have legalized marriage or civil union between people of the same sex.

Pioneering Europe

The Netherlands was, in 2001, the first country to authorize adoption by same-sex parents at the same time as same-sex marriage was legalized.

Since then, 22 other European countries have followed: Sweden in 2003 then Spain, Belgium, Norway, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, Switzerland. The latest, before Greece this Thursday, was Estonia in 2023.

Italy is one of the European countries that does not authorize adoption by same-sex couples, although civil unions have been legal there since 2016. However, the Court The Italian Court of Cassation ruled in 2021 that adoptions carried out legally abroad were valid, unless the child was the result of surrogacy (GPA). On instructions from the ultraconservative government of Giorgia Meloni, municipalities have for several months stopped registering children of homosexual couples born abroad in the civil registry.

Progressing in the United States

On the American continent, nine countries allow same-sex adoption. Canada has gradually legalized adoption by same-sex couples in its various provinces after the adoption of same-sex marriage in 2005.

In the United States, a Supreme Court decision handed down in 2015 led to the extension to all 50 American states of joint adoption by married couples of the same sex but of significant differences remain between States.

Uruguay legalized adoption by gay couples in 2009, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and finally Chile and Cuba in 2022.

Exceptions in Africa and Asia

In Africa, where a large majority of countries prohibit or repress homosexuality, South Africa is an exception, having authorized since the beginning of the years 2000 adoption then legalized same-sex marriage (in 2006).

In the Middle East, Israel is also an exception, having admitted adoption for same-sex couples in 2008. The Supreme Court also authorized GPA in July 2021. Marriage between people of the same sex is not authorized, but recognized when contracted abroad.

In Taiwan, Parliament adopted an amendment in 2023 allowing same-sex couples to jointly adopt children. The island is at the forefront of LGBT+ rights in Asia with the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2019, a first in this region of the world.

In December, Thai MPs gave initial approval to legalize same-sex unions, also paving the way for adoption.

In Oceania, same-sex marriage and adoption have been authorized in New Zealand since 2013 and in Australia since 2017/2018.

The thorny question of GPA

Surrogacy represents a way for male couples to become parents. However, few countries authorize the practice of "surrogate mothers" and it is most often on an “altruistic” basis. without possible financial compensation.

Only a handful of countries expressly extend this right to gay couples, including South Africa, Israel and Cuba.

In France, surrogacy is prohibited. However, under a judgment of July 5, 2017 of the Court of Cassation, the father of a child born abroad to a GPA can obtain recognition of the parentage as the biological parent of the child while his or her spouse can become a parent through simple adoption.

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