Gay couples in Sweden are to be allowed to adopt children, following a law passed in the Swedish parliament yesterday. Cohabiting gay couples registered in a legal partnership will be able to adopt children from next year, when the law is scheduled to enter into force.
The Swedish law was passed by the parliament by 198 votes to 38, with 71 abstentions.
Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands have already passed legislation giving gay couples adoption rights. Sweden will now need to follow the other three in withdrawing from the Council of Europe’s convention on adoption, which stipulates that only married couples or single people may adopt.
In practice the new Swedish law may simply play lip service to equality for gay couples. With just 16 children put up for adoption in Sweden in 2000, the chances of many gay adoptions remain slim. Unlike the situation in the Netherlands, the new law allows gay couples to look abroad, though 17 countries surveyed by the Swedish Foreign Ministry have already said that they would refuse gay people as adoptive parents.
The vote follows an 18 month study which concluded that gay couples are just as capable as their heterosexuals of raising children. In the UK, the debate continues to rage over the Bill to allow unmarried couples – heterosexual or homosexual – to adopt.
A issue of allowing lesbians to receive artificial insemination has been shelved for the time being, pending a court decision on the case of a man who privately donated his sperm to a lesbian couple, but was then pursued for child support after the couple split up.
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