A lesbian who was told that she could not adopt the children she parents with her partner because it would have a “negative impact” on them appealed against the landmark case on Friday.
It is the first time that a lesbian has tried to adopt children her partner had through artificial insemination and comes as public support grows for gay rights and same-sex marriage.
Neal Wang (王淑儀), aged 36, wanted to formally adopt the children that she and her partner of 15 years planned together and now co-parent. Wang’s partner, Ashley Chou (周書綺), gave birth to their twins — one boy, one girl — who are now three years old.
Under Taiwanese law, the unmarried partner of a birth mother is not allowed to adopt their child — but the couple had applied as a de facto married couple, saying that they want to wed, but are barred as same-sex marriages are illegal.
The court ruled against the adoption in February, citing potential “negative impact” on the children, despite an evaluation by the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) finding Neal Wang fit as an adoptive parent.
“I have a healthy family and the children are happy. I do not understand what the ‘negative impact’ would be,” Wang told reporters outside the Shilin District Court on Friday, as the couple announced their appeal bid. “I was there from the beginning when the kids were still eggs and I have taken care of them like any other parent.”
The court ruling on Wang’s application also cited a lack of “consensus” on legalizing same-sex marriages.
“There are many objections against homosexual couples adopting children,” the ruling said. “If the adoption is recognized, the young children will be placed on the frontline of the issue and face pressure from the outside, which could have a negative impact on their physical and psychological developments.”
Taiwan holds one of Asia’s biggest annual gay pride parades and the Cabinet drafted a bill in 2003 to legalize same-sex marriages and recognize the rights of homosexual couples to adopt children — the first in Asia to do so.
However, the bill was never put to a vote due to lack of consensus among lawmakers.
Another bill to recognize same-sex marriage was sent to parliament in 2013, but advocacy groups say there has been no progress.
Meanwhile, several social organizations showed their support for the couple.
Wang Tseng-yung (王增勇), a professor at the Graduate Institute of Social Work at National Chengchi University, railed against the court decision, saying that current legal guidelines do not list the status of the spousal relationship of the adoptive party as the main criteria in adoption cases.
In light of favorable assessments by the CWLF, Wang Tseng-yung also found that the court’s explanations on diverse family formation and concerns over possible negative impacts for the children to be unacceptable.
Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy secretary-general Fan Li-hsi said that the court’s decision represents the nation’s refusal to recognize Neal Wang and Ashley Chou’s family, a situation akin to legally-backed discrimination against same-sex families.