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Singapore screw

Singapore is seriously straight-laced. Pun intended, as this column is all about how anti-gay a Singapore judge was when faced with a unique case presented by a gay couple.

The story begins with the couple thinking of adopting a child. But naturally, Singapore prohibits (in practice, but not by actual statute, apparently) a gay couple from adopting (thank you for even wondering whether the state could be depriving an abandoned child a potentially good home). And so, the gay couple do the next best thing. Or what they think is the next best thing: one of the men decides to turn to surrogate measures, so he can father his biological child. (I think it's an even better thing!)

So off to America, the expectant father goes, and looks for a potential mother. Months and US$200,000 later, a child is born. You would think the story ends there, and the couple and their child live happily ever after, but no. This is where Singapore's screwed up sense of values ends up screwing everyone.

It turns out, because the father was unmarried, the child is illegitimate under Singaporean law. And because the child is illegitimate and was born outside the red dot, the child doesn't get Singaporean citizenship. (Although under the principle of jus soli, anyone born within US territory automatically becomes a US citizen, so the child doesn't end up stateless).

So here comes the Singaporean father, wanting to bring his child into his home country. So he files a petition in his own courts to allow him to adopt his very own blood child. (And he needed to do this since his child wasn't a citizen, and he needed to apply for a permit for his own child to stay with him every freaking year.)

Easy-peasy piece of cake for the lawyers? Walk in the park for father dear? Slam dunk court case?

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I would have thought so, but I didn't take into account the priggish judicial environment that exists in the tropical isle. The dear judge, aptly named Shobha Nair, ups and denies the petition for adoption.

The woman judge that was Madame Nair turned out to be a nightmare. She decides to shut the door against the kid. Not only does she do this, she even gets on her high horse to condemn the couple, judging them for using mullah to buy themselves a child and for "walking through the back door of the system when the front door was firmly shut."

Now, that ruling is a major shocker. The offspring of a citizen, in a country with low birth rates and where the government is trying to get their citizens to go forth and procreate like good biblical characters, and that child with Singaporean blood and Singaporean DNA doesn't deserve adoption?

In her seriously strained reasoning, the judge says that the adoption would "not further the interest of the four year old child. A four year old child will thrive anywhere in the hands of loving people". (Should I start a poll as to whether those "loving people" included the judge?)

Of course she says she is only there to "interpret the law and not make it", although, by the way, "the law mirrors the morality and wishes of the majority of Singaporeans." (I guess we don't need to spell out what she thinks the moral majority thinks about a gay person adopting.)

One would have thought that as a woman, Judge Nair would have at least exercised a bit of compassion towards an innocent child. I guess that's what you call stereotyping.


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