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LGBT adoption

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-child adoption) and adoption by a single LGBT person.

Joint adoption by same-sex couples is legal in 21 countries and in some territories. Furthermore, 7 countries have legalized step-child adoption. 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 1
  • Debate 2
    • Arguments 2.1
    • Public opinion 2.2
    • National debates 2.3
  • Legal status 3
    • Africa 3.1
      • South Africa 3.1.1
    • Asia 3.2
      • Israel 3.2.1
    • Europe 3.3
    • North America 3.4
      • Mexico 3.4.1
      • United States 3.4.2
    • Oceania 3.5
      • Australia 3.5.1
      • New Zealand 3.5.2
    • South America 3.6
  • Summary of laws by jurisdiction 4
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

LGBT parenting

Male same-sex couple with a child.

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.[2]



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]

Proponents of adoption by gay parents usually cite the following arguments:

  • The right of a child to have a family, guardians or people who can take care of their wellbeing[15]
  • Human rights - child's and parent's right to have a family life[16][17]
  • There are little or no differences between children raised by same-sex or straight couples.[18][19][20] For that reason, sexual orientation of the parents has no relevance when it comes to raising a child[21]
  • Evidence confirming that despite those opposed to LGBT parenting,[22] same-sex couples can provide good conditions to raise a child[23][24]
  • For the children, adoption is a better alternative to orphanage[25][26][27][28][29]
  • Less formalities for step-parents in everyday life, as well as the situation of a death of a biological parent of a child[30]
  • In some countries single same-sex people can adopt, therefore banning LGBT parenting (especially adoption) is artificial[31]

Opponents of adoption by LGBT people usually cite the following arguments:

  • Same-sex couples would make children develop defined unwanted traits[32]
  • Same-sex parents lack parental competence[22] [33][34][35]
  • Cases of parental abuse[36]
  • Religious reasons[37]
  • Violations of a child's rights[38]

Public opinion

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.[39] 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.[40] 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.[41] 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[42] poll found that 74% of Poles were opposed to same-sex marriage and 89% opposed adoption by same-sex couples.

National debates

As of July 2015, there are national debates on LGBT parenthood in the following countries:

Legal status

Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples around the world:
  Joint adoption allowed1
  Second-parent adoption allowed2
  No laws allowing adoption by same-sex couples
1In Finland a law will come into force in 2017.
2In Estonia a law will come into force in 2016.

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 step-child adoption in which the partner in a relationship can adopt the natural, and in some cases the adopted, child of his or her partner:


South Africa

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".[102] 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.[103] Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2006, and is equivalent to opposite-sex marriage for all purposes, including adoption.


LGBT adoption rights in Asia, especially Western Asia are currently being debated over yet the rights have changed for the better. Most nations still illegalize marriage, so adoption is out of the question, whilst some, very few, countries, allow almost all.[104] An example is Israel who allows 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.[105] 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.[106] This marked a watershed in granting equal rights to all gay people in Israel.[106] 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:
  Joint adoption legal1
  Stepparent adoption legal2
  No laws allowing adoption by same-sex couples
1In Finland a law will come into force in 2017.
2In Estonia a law will come into force in 2016.

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.[107] 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.[108][109] 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.[110]

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.[111] 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.[112] 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.[111][113]

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.[114][115]

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;[116][117] the motion on the possible referendum was then considered,[118] but the Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional.[119] On 14 March 2014, the original bill was rejected in second reading.[117]

In July 2014 through Life Partnership Act Croatia recognized an institution similar to step-child adoption called partner-guardian. A partner who is not a biological parent of a child can share parental responsibilities with a biological parent or parents if they agree to it, or if the court decides it is in the best interest of a child. Additionally, a biological parent or parents can temporarily give a partner who is not a biological parent full parental responsibilities. A partner who is not a biological parent can also gain permanent parental responsibilities through an institution of partner-guardian if both biological parents of a child have died, or exceptionally if a second biological parent of a child is unknown, and if the court decides it is in the best interest of a child.[120]

In January 2015, the Constitutional Court of Austria found the existing laws on adoption to be unconstitutional and ordered the laws to be changed by 31 December 2015 to allow joint adoption by same-sex couples in Austria.[121][122]

On 6 April 2015, the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015 passed by Parliament in March 2015 which extends full adoption rights to cohabiting couples and those in civil partnerships was promulgated by the President of Ireland.[123][124][125][126]

North America

Legal status of adoption by same-sex couples in North America:
  Joint adoption legal
  No laws allowing adoption by same-sex couples


In Mexico City, the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District passed legislation on 21 December 2009 enabling same-sex couples to adopt children.[127] Eight days later, Head of Government ("Mayor") Marcelo Ebrard signed the bill into law, which officially took effect on 4 March 2010.[95][128]

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.[129] On 12 February 2014, the state's congress overwhelmingly approved the measure more than two years following the supreme court decision.[94]

United States



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,[130] Western Australia,[131] New South Wales[89] and Tasmania.[132] 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.[133] 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.[134]

New Zealand

The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, which came into force on 19 August 2013, allowed same-sex marriage and permitted 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.[135]

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. 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

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

In [87] 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.[86][136] In a recent poll in Chile (Nov 2014) shows that 44% of Chileans support same sex adoption, and 51% are opposed.[137]

Summary of laws by jurisdiction

European laws on adoption by same-sex couples
Country LGBT individual may petition to adopt Same-sex couple may jointly petition Same-sex partner may petition to adopt partner's child Same-sex couples are allowed to foster or stepchild foster
Andorra Yes Yes Yes Yes
Austria Yes Yes (eff. 2016) Yes Yes (except state of Lower Austria)
Belgium Yes Yes Yes Yes
Belarus No No No No
Bulgaria Yes No No No
Croatia Yes No Yes/No (a similar institution called partner-guardianship exists, which gives almost all the benefits as step-child adoption) No
Czech Republic Yes No No No (but exceptions are made)[138]
Denmark Yes Yes Yes Yes
Estonia Yes No (but couples where both partners are infertile may also adopt non-biological children) Yes (eff. 2016) Yes
Faroe Islands No No No No
Finland Yes Yes (eff. 2017) Yes Yes
France Yes Yes Yes Yes
Germany Yes No Yes Yes
Gibraltar Yes Yes Yes Yes
Guernsey Yes (eff. 2016) Yes (eff. 2016) Yes (eff. 2016) Yes (eff. 2016)
Iceland Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ireland Yes Yes (eff. 2015) Yes (eff. 2015) Yes
Isle Of Man Yes Yes Yes Yes
Italy Yes (single people may adopt only in exceptional circumstances, independently of their sexual orientation) No No (ambiguous, granted in one court case [1]) No (since same-sex couples are not recognized but singles can foster)
Jersey Yes Yes Yes Yes
Latvia Yes No No No
Liechtenstein Yes No No No
Lithuania No (only in exceptional circumstances) No No No
Luxembourg Yes Yes Yes Yes
Malta Yes[139] Yes Yes Yes
Netherlands Yes Yes Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes Yes
Poland Yes No No No
Portugal Yes No No Yes
Slovakia Yes No No No
Slovenia Yes No Yes No (but singles can foster)
Spain Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sweden Yes Yes Yes Yes
Switzerland Yes No No Yes
United Kingdom Yes Yes Yes Yes
Latin American and Caribbean laws on adoption by same-sex couples
Same-sex couple joint petition LGBT individual adoption Same-sex stepparent adoption
Argentina Yes Yes Yes
Belize No (Gay sex illegal) No (Gay sex illegal) No (Gay sex illegal)
Bolivia No Yes No
Brazil Yes Yes Yes
Chile No Yes No
Colombia No Yes Yes
Costa Rica No Yes No
Cuba No No No
Dominican Republic No No No
Ecuador No (constitutional ban) Yes No (constitutional ban)
El Salvador No No No
French Guiana Yes Yes Yes
Guatemala No No No
Guyana No (Gay sex illegal) No (Gay sex illegal) No (Gay sex illegal)
Honduras No (constitutional ban) No (constitutional ban) No (constitutional ban)
Mexico Yes (only Mexico City and Coahuila) Yes Yes (only Mexico City and Coahuila)
Nicaragua No No No
Paraguay No No No
Peru No No No
Puerto Rico Yes Yes Yes
Suriname No No No
Uruguay Yes Yes Yes
Venezuela No No No
Australasian laws on adoption by same-sex couples
Same-sex couple joint petition LGBT individual adoption Same-sex stepparent adoption
ACT Yes Yes Yes
New South Wales Yes[89] Yes Yes[89]
Tasmania Yes[132] Yes Yes[132]
Victoria No (government undertaking a review in 2015)[140] Yes Yes
Western Australia Yes Yes Yes
Norfolk Island Yes Yes Yes
New Zealand Yes Yes Yes
South Australia No (government undertaking a review in 2014)[141] No (government undertaking a review in 2014)[141] No (government undertaking a review in 2014)[141]
Queensland No[142] Yes[142] No[142]
Northern Territory No Only in exceptional circumstances No


  • From July 1, 2016 Norfolk Island legislation will be transferred to New South Wales and subject to NSW legislation.[143]
  • Even a de facto opposite sex couple can not jointly adopt a child under the laws of the Northern Territory.
  • No individual or single people are allowed to adopt a child, only a married or cohabitating opposite-sex couples under the laws of South Australia.
  • Only opposite-sex married couples and same-sex married couples are allowed to jointly adopt a child. That means both cohabitating and civil unions couples of any sex can not jointly adopt a child under the laws of New Zealand.

See also

Further reading

  • Primary resource collection and readings. Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms
  • Primary resource collection and readings. Library of Congress. Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms
  • Stacey, J. & Davenport, E. (2002) Queer Families Quack Back, in: D. Richardson & S. Seidman (Eds) Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies. (London, SAGE Publications), 355–374.
  • New Zealand Law Commission: Adoption- Options for Reform: Wellington: New Zealand Law Commission Preliminary Paper No 38: 1999: ISBN 1-877187-44-5


  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. ^
  3. ^ William Satetan,Adopting Premises, Slate, 7 February 2002
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Is the "Cinderella Effect" Controversial? Archived 16 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Lesbian & Gay Parenting. Page 12.
  8. ^ (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 [2]).
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  13. ^ Muslims back Catholics over gay adoption
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  33. ^ Berebitsky, Julie. "Family ideals and the social construction of modern adoption: a historical perspective," Adoptive Families in a Diverse Society 29-42. ed. Katarina Wegar. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 2006.
  34. ^ Anderssen, Norman & Christine Amlie & Erling André Ytterøy. "Outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents. A review of studies from 1978 to 2000," Scandinavian Journal of Psychology 43 (4), 335–351. September 2002. Accessed online: http://www.blackwellsynergy. com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-9450.00302.
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  53. ^ (Catalan) Llei 34/2014, del 27 de novembre, qualificada de les unions civils i de modificació de la Llei qualificada del matrimoni, de 30 de juny de 1995
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  57. ^ David Morton Rayside. Queer inclusions, continental divisions: public recognition of sexual diversity in Canada and the United States. University of Toronto Press, 2008. p. 388 (p. 20). ISBN 0-8020-8629-2.
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  59. ^
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  61. ^ name="Alberta adoption">
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  65. ^ Gays given equal adoption rights Archived 8 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
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  68. ^ David Morton Rayside. Queer inclusions, continental divisions: public recognition of sexual diversity in Canada and the United States. University of Toronto Press, 2008. p. 388 (p. 21). ISBN 0-8020-8629-2.
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  85. ^ laws/wyoming
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  105. ^
  106. ^ a b AG okays wider adoption rights for same-sex couples, By Yuval Yoaz, 12 February 2008.
  107. ^ Ruling of the Court of Cassation, first civil chamber, on recourse 04-17090
  108. ^
  109. ^
  110. ^
  111. ^ a b Ruling in E.B. v. France from the European Court of Human Rights
  112. ^ Council of State (France), ruling 230533
  113. ^ BBC, France chided over gay adoption, 22 January 2008
  114. ^
  115. ^
  116. ^ (Portuguese) Conservadores barram direito de adoção a casais gays
  117. ^ a b (Portuguese) Assambleia da República - Status of Bill 278/XII
  118. ^ (Portuguese) Assambleia da República - Status of Draft Resolution 857/XII
  119. ^ (Portuguese) Decision 176/2014
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  134. ^ Victorian Law Reform Commission – Current projects – Assisted Reproduction and Adoption – Final Report Archived 30 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
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  141. ^ a b c
  142. ^ a b c [3]
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External links

  • New Family Social The organisation for LGBT adopters and foster carers in the UK.
  • AICAN – Australian Intercountry Adoption Network
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights – Information about the legal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, including a legal information hotline
  • – Adoption and Parenting – News and Current Events pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of same-sex parents in adopting and parenting
  • Family Pride Coalition – The only US-based national level non-profit organization solely dedicated to advocating for LGBT parents and their families
  • Families Like Ours – Adoption resource center with a focus on same-sex parenting
  • The Rockway Institute for LGBT research in the public interest at Alliant International University
  • COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere)
  • "In the Family Way" – News story of gay and lesbian adoptive families, and the surrogate and donor family
  • Families Like Mine
  • Greenwood and Fink – all legal services for same sex adopting couples and more. – Providing a path to gay and lesbian adoption: all legal services, access to obstetric and pediatric medical services, accommodations, social services, concierge services and other resources.
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