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A look at same-sex parenting rights around the world

India doesn't grant legal rights to queer couples to adopt. Here is a round-up of same-sex parenting rights worldwide

Nearly 40 countries, or less than a fifth of the United Nation's 193 member states, allow same-sex couples to adopt.
Nearly 40 countries, or less than a fifth of the United Nation's 193 member states, allow same-sex couples to adopt. (Pexels)

Becoming parents is an uphill battle for same-sex couples, with less than one country out of five giving them the right to adopt and many restricting their use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogates.

 Here is a round-up of same-sex parenting rights worldwide. 

Also read: Parenting without gender stereotypes

Adoption

Nearly 40 countries, or less than a fifth of the United Nation's 193 member states, allow same-sex couples to adopt, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

Located mainly in Europe, North and Latin America, they are largely the same countries that have allowed same-sex marriages or civil partnerships. The Netherlands in 2001 became the first country in the world to allow same-sex couples to adopt children, and 22 European countries, nine in the Americas, plus South Africa, Israel, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand have since followed suit.

But with relatively few children available for adoption in these countries, many same-sex couples try to have children themselves. For men, the answer is often to use the sperm of one of the partners and a surrogate mother, while lesbian couples often use donor sperm to fertilise the egg of one of the mothers.

Becoming a second parent

Under same-sex marriage laws, both partners are able to adopt a child together. Most countries that allow same-sex marriage also allow lesbian couples to use fertility treatment in order to start a family, using donor sperm and the egg of one of the two aspiring mothers.

But in France, lesbian couples only gained access to fertility treatment in 2021, eight years after a hotly-contested same-sex marriage bill came into force.

Surrogacy

Many gay men pin their hopes on having a baby through surrogacy. But surrogacy is banned in many European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

Asian countries Thailand and India, both leading destinations for commercial surrogacy in the past, have clamped down on the practice in recent years.

While surrogacy is legal in Canada and in many parts of the United States, the status of the parents is often uncertain on their return to Europe. In Italy, for example, the hard-right government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who came to power last year promising to uphold traditional family values, has told local authorities to stop registering children born to same-sex couples abroad.

Only a handful of countries explicitly extend the right to surrogacy to gay couples, including South Africa, Israel and Cuba.

Ukraine, which was a key destination for couples seeking a surrogate mother before Russia's invasion in February 2022, only allows married and heterosexual couples to sign up, while Russia has banned all foreigners from having children with the help of a surrogate.

Also read: How online communities helped LGBTQ+ folks after same-sex marriage verdict

 

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