Although generally under the radar of mainstream society, many LGBT Singaporeans have become parents through various means including via current or former conventional marital and extramarital relationships, coparenting, adoption, foster care and more recently, donor sperm insemination and surrogacy.
Many children from conventional families in Singapore do not know they have an LGBT parent because of the social, religious and legal stigma associated with being LGBT which inhibits these parents from coming out. As the periodic national census does not attempt to collect data on the sexual orientation or gender identity of Singaporeans, it is unknown how many LGBT or same-sex couples with children there exist. Hence, they are officially nonexistent in the country, not considered in state policies designed for the Singaporean family and not recognised within the prevailing heteronormative socio-cultural climate.
However, a private study was conducted in the late 2010s to determine just what these figures are so as to better understand the needs of these families. The results of the research will be published in due course. Another groundbreaking sociological study was published as a chapter in the academic tome "Family and Population Changes in Singapore" in 2018,.
In early February 2021, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) released a study entitled "Our Singaporean Values" which found that over a quarter of local respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that homosexual parents were just as good as other couples,.
- 1 Options and forms of LGBT parenting
- 1.1 Pregnancy
- 1.2 Birth
- 1.3 Adoption
- 1.4 Surrogacy
- 1.5 Blended families and coparenting
- 1.6 Developing methods
- 2 Birth certificate
- 3 Child's surname
- 4 Schooling
- 5 Precautions against adversity
- 6 Expatriate same-sex parents
- 7 Strategies for advocating same-sex parent equality
- 8 Same-sex parents featured in mainstream media
- 9 Surveys on same-sex parenting in Singapore
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
- 13 Acknowledgements
Options and forms of LGBT parenting
Having and raising children are amongst the most challenging issues faced by LGBT couples in Singapore who want to become parents. While other areas of the law relating to property or medical decisions may be relatively neutral, same-sex couples and families face daunting discrimination and obstacles in this area, both with respect to access to assisted reproductive technology and the legal system.
This choice is obviously only available to lesbian and not male gay couples, with the current state of medical technology, because only biological women can get pregnant. It is also possible for LGBT couples where one partner is a transgender man who has not undergone surgical removal of the female reproductive organs (hysterectomy, oophorectomy and salpingectomy). Pregnancy may be achieved by home or medically assisted insemination. There are advantages and disadvantages of conceiving a child via this avenue.
Do-it-yourself home insemination of donor sperm may be:
- natural - by having penile-vaginal intercourse with the sperm donor, or
- assisted - by inserting the sperm sample into the vagina using a syringe with an attached tube.
The cost of assisted home insemination is SGD$500 to 1000 using a known local donor, mainly for the insemination kit including a cup.
Alternatively, sperm may be imported from the US. At the present time, it is not clear if sperm samples are controlled substances or not, according to the guidance document issued by the Health Products Regulation Group, Health Sciences Authority (HSA), which provides the current regulatory requirements for medicinal products to be imported into Singapore for personal medical use. If they are, they would require a licence from the HSA. Lesbian couples have inquired about this with all the relevant agencies but they have denied responsibility. To get a black-and-white letter from the HSA stating that human sperm is not a controlled susbstance costs S$5000. Therefore, it is not known for sure if one can import sperm without the authorities trying to take it away.
Home insemination of donor sperm is not the preferred option. Some men donate sperm for humanitarian reasons, others for money, or both.
- The couple and sperm donor should agree on what is expected of him right from the beginning. It helps to write a contract and get it signed so that all parties involved are clear about the boundaries. Some couples view sperm donors as part of the family and welcome coparenting. Others prefer minimal contact. The couple should make sure that they get a donor who wants what they want to prevent unnecessary complication in the child’s life in future.
- The couple should ensure that the sperm donor is tested twice for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) at least 6 months apart to guaranteed that he is disease free. Blood tests need to be done to verify this but these can only reveal so much. The donor has to be trusted not to go out and have random sex with strangers after the results are out. The method is risky and therefore not recommended unless the couple knows the donor very well.
If the donor knows the lesbian couple has his biological child, he has legal recourse to visitation rights after child is born. Also, if DNA tests prove that he is the father, he can request that his name be on the birth certificate.
Lesbian couples must be very clear as to who this person is. He must be aware of what kind of parenting agreement the couple wants to have. It is recommended a contract be drafted stipulating what rights the donor has with regard to the child after it is born. The contract may not be legally binding in Singapore's courts but at least the couple has some document signed by both parties as a reference.
Medically assisted insemination
Medically assisted insemination of donor sperm done in a clinic or hospital is deemed to be better than home insemination.
However, it is not legally available to unmarried couples in Singapore where one has to to be married to get fertility treatment. Even married women need their husband’s consent to obtain gain access to assisted reproductive techniques. Therefore, single women need to travel overseas to have the procedure performed. Some of the popular locations are Thailand, Taiwan and the United States.
For both methods, women can purchase sperm from sperm banks and have it sent to the hospital of their choice. Some countries have local sperm banks. Others, such as Thailand, allow one to purchase sperm from overseas and ship it into the country. In Bangkok, there are several obstetricians who are willing to do the procedure.
A sample of donor sperm costs US$700 per vial on average. It is more expensive for a donor with a better profile. One requires 1 to 2 vials per try, occasionally 3 or 4. If the insemination is not done in the US, one has to ship the sperm to another country. In Bangkok, the cost of shipping sperm samples into the country is about US$1000. It is more cost efficient to ship a few vials at a time. One can buy a few vials from the US, ship it to Bangkok and hospital will store the sample by freezing it in a liquid nitrogen tank. The sample can be thawed and used for every hospital visit so one only has to pay for shipping once.
Many options for sperm. Some choose Caucasian or Japanese donor. Seller will show you different profiles eg. scientist or teacher. But don't get too fixated about it.
Sperm donors - variety of options. At first Olivia wanted to do home insemination because cheaper. Depends on whether you want your child to know his biological father. Some want and some don't want. Can get friend you trust well. In USA, sperm banks have known and anonymous donors. Known donors more expensive. After child turns 18, he has the option of contacting the sperm bank and inform them that he wants to contact the sperm donor. Up to sperm donor whether he wants to connect with the child. They have the right to reject. Profiles from different sperm banks is quite varied. Some sperm banks are very in depth. They will provide a form all sperm donors have to fill up. Form details will include medical history, family history up to level of aunties, uncles, nephews, nieces. List is very exhaustive, eg. asthma, anaemia, etc. Staff at clinic will write a short piece about the person. The feeling they get when they meet with the person. Can request for handwriting analysis. Some have neat handwriting, some like they are drunk. The deeper you want to get into the profile, the more you have to pay. Don't get too obsessed with entire sperm donor thing. Sperm donors go through psychological profile. Everyone allowed to donate but not all sperm will be approved as donor sperm. Sperm will be tested and only when passed they will put you on donor list. Cannot se a photo of the adult donor but they will show you a baby photo of the person.
- Do be financially prepared as medically assisted insemination can be fairly costly. It is good to keep in mind the costs of travel to the foreign country, accommodation and fees for the procedure.
- It is possible to get some preparation tests done in Singapore and only head overseas to get the actual procedure done. This can save some time and money.
- There are a variety of sperm banks available, so do research beforehand and pick a bank with a good range of donor profiles that are close to what you require.
In Singapore, egg donor cannot be done unless you're married. Sperm donor cannot waive his rights over the child. Overseas can be done. Normally gay parents tell the child from birth.
In US, agencies also have gamete, egg donor selection. They will give an adult photo. Gives first name also but not surname. Also have personal interviews describing what they like to do like hobbies and why they wanted to do egg donation. So different from sperm donor experience. In US, fertility treatment is more advanced than Singapore. So more options available.
- Main article: Intrauterine insemination
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a method whereby the donor sperm is inserted directly into the uterus using a syringe connected to a long, thin catheter around the time of ovulation. IUI can be carried out in a natural cycle, without the use of drugs, or the ovaries may be stimulated with oral antiestrogens or gonadotrophins.
The procedure allows one to bypass the cervix to deposit sperm closer to opening of the fallopian tubes into the uterus, thereby facilitating a larger number of motile sperms reaching the fertilisation site in the ampulla of fallopian tube. In addition, the sperm separation procedure via washing and centrifugation removes white blood cells, and dead and moribund sperm generating free oxygen radicals which reduce the functional capacity of viable sperm. Controlled stimulation of the ovaries is often used in conjunction with IUI to enhance the chances of pregnancy by inducing multiple ovulation.
The success rate for IUI is from 5 to 20%, the same as having penile-vaginal intercourse. Although this is lower than for IVF, it is a less invasive procedure. Success rates are significantly increased if the period cycle is closely monitored and fertility drugs are used prior to the procedure.
IUI is a simpler process than IVF and is thus the cheaper of the two options. Women can fly to Bangkok over the weekend to have it done and return to Singapore by Monday. It costs SGD$1,500 to 3,000 per cycle in Bangkok and includes accommodation on site.
In vitro fertilisation
- Main article: In vitro fertilisation
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a method whereby ova (eggs) are extracted from the ovaries and mixed with sperm to form embryos. These are then taken and transplanted into the uterus. The success rate for IVF is between 15 to 40%. A lot of it depends on the age of the mother and quality of the eggs retrieved. This is a more complex procedure and is generally between 8 to 10 times more expensive than IUI.
$15,000 to 30,000. Requires more than one session. $30K is for seeing a particular doctor in Singapore and doing the insemination in JB. Also average cost per cycle in USA. Travel and accommodation to States more expensive.
$4,000 to 10,000 at local hospitals. Some gynecologists have packages that you can sign up for. After you sign, have unlimited visits. Includes fess for OT and others. Your choice to make it expensive or affordable.
Gynecologist visits every or 2 weeks. In middle of pregnancy, see once every 3 to 4 weeks. Near term, see every week.
Antenatal checkups at Polyclinic affordable if Singaporean. Long waiting time. If go through public health system, cannot choose doctor you see. Every time go in, may see different doctor. Pull file and see whichever doctor you're assigned.
Private doctor $100 per visit. See about 20 times in entire pregnancy. So about $2000 excluding scans cost $70 to 100. Plus blood tests. Pregnancy without birth costs $5000. Down's Syndrome test is $700 to 900.
The choice of obstetrician and hospital is very important as this will set the tenor for the entire birth experience. There are gay-friendly obstetricians in Singapore who have delivered babies of lesbian women. The latter should be open about their sexuality from the start of their relationship with the doctor. A list of gay-friendly O&G surgeons is available from Rainbow Parents SG.
While the general experience in Singapore has been mostly pleasant, there have been cases where the hospital refused to acknowledge the biological mother’s partner. Partners have also been banned from operation theatres during Caesarean sections and are generally not recognised as the next-of-kin of the biological mother. Couples are recommended to be open with their obstetricians from the beginning and seek a second or third opinion if the doctor seems to be homophobic.
Private hospitals (eg. Mt. Elizabeth, Gleneagles, Thomson Medical Centre, Mt. Alvernia) not necessarily better than goverment ones (eg. KK Hospital, NUH, SGH, Alexandra). There is a known case of one half of a lesbian couple about to deliver her baby but the hospital staff refused to let her partner into the operating theatre until the obstetrician stated that he would not begin the surgery until the partner was let in.
In government hospitals, if not married, the partner will not be allowed into the operating theatre to witness a Caesarean section. Fortunately, unmarried partners are allowed into the delivery ward to see the birth process if it is a natural one.
Partners may appeal and permission may be granted on case-by-case basis. If the appeal does not succeed, the couple may want to reconsider having the child delivered in that particular hospital.
In Singapore, the biological mother can use Medisave to pay for part of the delivery fees. However, it should be noted that the Maternity Package will not be available as the biological mother of the child will be considered a single mother. The child will also not be entitled to Baby Bonus or other subsidies that require the parents of the child to be married.
- Main article: Child adoption in Singapore
Adoption is an option for couples who do not want to go through the hassle of pregnancy, failed medically assisted insemination or surrogacy.
Residency Status – You must be residents in Singapore to adopt, i.e. Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents, or holders of Employment Pass, Dependant’s Pass or any other Pass which the Family Court deems as residents in Singapore.
Age – You must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child to be adopted. Maximum age gap between adopter and child must not be more than 50 years older than the child.
Marital status – If you are a single male, you are not allowed to adopt a girl, unless there are special circumstances to justify the adoption.
Home study report – If you wish to adopt a foreign child or a child from MSF, you are required to apply for a Home Study Report.
Pre-adoption Briefing – You should attend a compulsory Pre-Adoption Briefing (PAB) before you apply for a home study or begin the legal proceedings on adoption.
The estimated cost of adoption is between S$8,000 to S$20,000.
Must be approved by MSF - must submit application to adopt. Part of process is that they will do a home study, can by done by a few different agencies, some more friendly than others. Recent developments are that some agencies will ask if you are gay. If you say yes, they may ask to interview your partner. One male gay couple after interviewing partner, got adoption rejected. Laws are not clear on this. Don't know what Ministry's stand is currently. They don't say clearly whether gay people can or cannot adopt. Some gay couples did manage to adopt but that was some time back, at least 3 to 4 years back. Policies may have changed. Be aware that when do home study or interview, you may not want to be 100% truthful about it.
Men can only adopt boys Official age limit at 50 years older than child Soft limit around 40 - 45. They think you may not be suitable to adopt a child at this advanced age.
Gay male couple applied for adoption but rejected. During interview, asked if OK to declare if gay. Said there was no law but policy says gay people cannot adopt. During interview, said could consider but recently, changed policy.
Policies differ from country to country Most will require home study approval by MSF - still will have to go through home study interviews. Only applicable to Singaporeans. If partner is foreigner, can get partner to get approval from his home country and you get approval for overseas adoption. If partner is PR, can opt to have home study done in his country.
Estimated cost: S$8,000 to 20,000
Once get approval from MSF, can approach any number of agencies to source child for you. Some agencies are better than others. Most adopted children in Singapore come from overseas. Not many Singaporean children are offered for adoption. Waiting list is quite long. Agencies will arrange for child from Malaysia, Indonesia or one of ASEAN countries. Some Singaporean couples are pick. They want a Chinese baby. Parents must be tall, educated. But if parents are tall, educated and privileged, won't want to offer child for adoption. Many children born to underprivileged parents in Malaysia who can't afford to bring them up. May be mixed babies in need of a home. So hope you will approach agencies sourcing from Malaysia or Indonesia.
Cost is S$15,000 for a Chinese baby, the cuter the more expensive. Like child trafficking system in Singapore and it is legal. Agency can show you all the pictures and the prices, eg. $20K or 30K. If you don't want, others want. Don't patronise agencies who are so mercenary.
Citizenship of child
When your assets are overseas, the laws of that particular country will apply to your assets and your children. US laws protect you better so may prefer to have a child in US. You can get a second parent adoption done in America. The child will be a UK or US citizen if born in the respective country. Both spouses will be legal parents of the child and they can have the adoption papers drawn up there. The laws of that country will apply. If you have a child and civil union or marriage in the UK, you are both recognised as legal parents of the child. When you both come back to Singapore, only one of you will be recognised as the child's parent because Singapore does not recognise same-sex parents. In a custody battle, the case can be brought to the courts of the UK because the legal papers were drawn up that jurisdiction. This is legal in the UK and the US but not in Australia. You cannot have both lesbian parents' names on the child's birth certificate even if the child was born in the US because if parents are not residents of US. To get the requisite paperwork done, the couple has to reside there for 6 months and a home study has to be undertaken to prepare for adoption. It is well worth it if you have the time and money. The advantages of having both lesbian parents' names on birth certificate is that in a custody fight, both parents have legal standing, not in Singapore, but you can bring up the case in the relevant overseas court. Also both parents have equal rights to child, even the one who did not give birth to it. It is important to have equality in the relationship and family.
If a couple has more than one child and even though both spouses are married and the biological mother's or one spouse's name is on the child's birth certificate, couples sometimes decide to adopt all their children because they want security for their family.
For some spouses, it is a form of insurance so that the other spouse cannot just take the kids and leave the other childless. Another advantage is that, at least, one spouse will not be stuck raising the kids on his/her own if the couple breaks up. Couples residing in the US are extremely fortunate to be able to do this.
For same-sex couples in Singapore, this is not an option. There are local couples who are raising kids together where one party has no legal rights to the kids. If anything should happen to the relationship, the parent who is not on the birth certificate is basically left in the lurch. It is important to realise that while it would be nice to for lesbian/gay couples with children to stay together forever because they have been through so much to have children, it is unfortunately not always the case. People change and if a relationship no longer works, it is pointless to stay together just for the children. Needless to say, this applies to everyone, whether gay or straight.
It is also relevant to LGBTQ couples who have no children but who have gone overseas to get married. Presently, getting married is the easy part. It is when the couple wants a divorce that it gets complicated. It tends to cost quite a bit of money and there are sometimes residency issues that need to be taken into consideration.
There are families who have gone through the process and come out better on the other side. Learning to co-parent with someone who is no longer one's spouse is difficult, but it can be achieved. The problem comes when both parties cannot come to an agreement, especially if one side has the upper hand - whether it be due to legal rights over the children, financial support or citizenship status.
As long as the LGBTQ community does not have equal rights to education, housing, marriage, reproduction, it is something worth fighting for.
A child of a Singaporean father only gains citizenship if he is legally married to the mother. A child born to a Singaporean mother is automatically a Singaporean.
Surrogacy is the agreement of a woman to carry a pregnancy for the intended parents.
Not possible/legal in Singapore. Cannot do even if straight couple. Not discriminating against gay couples.
Only available via IVF.
There are two main types of surrogacy, gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.
In gestational surrogacy, the pregnancy results from the transfer of an embryo created by IVF, in a manner so the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate. This type of surrogacy requires an egg donor.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is impregnated naturally or artificially, but the resulting child is genetically related to the surrogate. In this case, the surrogate is the egg donor.
Surrogacy is not legal in Singapore but can be done in other countries including Thailand and the United States.
Until 2015, Thailand was Asia’s surrogate country of choice after India closed its doors to gay couples in January 2013. She boasted a lucrative, yet largely unregulated, international surrogacy trade which was particularly popular among gay couples.
But in February 2015, legislation was passed banning foreigners from using Thai surrogate mothers after a series of high-profile scandals.
The move was spurred by an Australian couple who were accused last spring of abandoning a baby with Down's syndrome carried by a Thai surrogate while taking his healthy twin sister.
A second high profile surrogacy controversy erupted when nine babies fathered by a Japanese man using Thai surrogate mothers were discovered in a Bangkok apartment.
Bangkok had a booming surrogacy industry with 35% of intending parents being gay men. However, there were some important laws that need to be noted. The most important law was that the surrogate mother must have her name on the child’s birth certificate. She was also the legal guardian, as a child born out of wedlock is deemed to be the legitimate child of the mother. The father had no parental rights, even if he was listed on the birth certificate. Therefore it was important to ensure the surrogate mother agreed to relinquish all rights to the child after birth.
The average cost of surrogacy in Bangkok was US$40,000, cheaper by half from United States and the proximity to Singapore made it a more attractive choice for Singaporeans.
- One had to make sure that the surrogate entered into a contract outlining her intent to allow the child to be adopted by the biological sperm donor – the father listed on the birth certificate.
- One had to be prepared to be in Thailand for around 3 to 4 weeks after the birth of the child as that was how long it took for the child to get a birth certificate and a passport.
The United States’ lenient laws towards surrogacy have made the country an ideal place for gay couples to find a woman to carry their child.
Across the U.S. laws vary by state, with six states criminalising paid surrogacy, including New York, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Washington. The surrogacy-friendly states are California, Illinois, Arkansas and Massachusetts. These states allow for paid surrogacies and some have agencies that specialise in locating surrogate mothers for gay couples. These agencies will also assist in preparing paperwork so that both fathers can have their names on the birth cert and the surrogate mother’s rights are correctly terminated.
The costs of surrogacy in United States starts from US$100,000. Taking into consideration airfare, accommodation and other miscellaneous expenses, couples must be prepared to spend between US$100,000 to US$200,000.
- Be sure to use a reputable agency, preferably one recommended by someone who has used their services before. This will help in preventing unnecessary complications and headaches.
Blended families and coparenting
Blended families refers to couples who have children from previous relationships.
Agreement to do coparenting is not legally binding in Singapore - it does not matter if you and your partner are very happy in your relationship and you regard your partner's child as your child. If you are the other mother, you have no rights. Same for other father. Legal guardianship does not apply because second parent adoption is not available in Singapore. This is something we are working very hard to change because it does not only affect us, it affects straight couples as well or people who remarry. Most step parents will not have any legal rights over the child unless the biological parent agrees to give up his or her rights. These rights have been made available in other countries but not in Singapore. When you want to do coparenting, this is something you want to discuss openly.
Legal guardianship does not apply as second parent adoption is not available in Singapore.
Blended families exist. Children approaching and registering for primary one. Know at least 5 lesbian couples with children over age of 5. They are the pioneers.
- Main article: Same-sex procreation
Currently, scientists are conducting research on alternative types of human parenthood which can aid same-sex couples to have children. One of the possibilities is using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from skin to produce sperm and ova.
The child of a single mother in Singapore cannot have its birth registered in a hospital. The registration must be done at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). The mother must solemnly swear and have it recorded in black-and-white that she does not know who the father is and that she does not want to put his name on the birth certificate. If she desires the father's name to be recorded on the birth certificate later on, a DNA test to prove he is the father must be done. In future, if the sperm donor wants custody of the child, he can approach the courts to say that he thinks the child is his and that he wants visitation rights, after which he can request a court order to be issued and a DNA test done. To avoid this awkward situation, the single mother must prove that the sperm donor has not provided for the child in any way and assiduously prevent him from paying for any procedures. If the donor has not provided for anything and his name is not on the birth certificate, the most he can claim is visitation rights. Therefore, it is best not to use a sperm donor if the single mother does not know him well. Alternatively, the mother can draft a non-legally binding contract with the donor stipulating exactly what he is entitled to do. However, the sperm donor still has basic rights under the law and these cannot be taken away from him. If the single mother is not comfortable with this arrangement, it is best to use an anonymous donor.
At ICA, after swearing don't know father, must follow mother's name. 2 options - issue BC with mother's surname and do depo to change last name. Take away original BC and issue new BC with new surname. Other option, mother changes name. ICs changed to Chiong to accommodate daughter. Do depo. If child has different surname from parents may be accused of kidnapping.
Singaporean children do not have option to attend international schools. Therefore non-Singaporean children have an advantage.
Possible to appoint another representative as guardian at most schools. This is an advantage. If you are the main caregiver but not the biological parent, when you go and register at the school, you can tell the school that your partner will pick up the child at school or he will be the one signing the report card, etc. Straight couples do it as well. When you are not the main caregiver, you can appoint someone else as the main guardian at the school. Not the entire system but the schools allow such things.
Parents talk to principal and ask them if OK with that. Kindergartens and preschools OK with that. 2 children in group registered for primary one. Not declared anything yet. Update next year.
Precautions against adversity
Lasting power of attorney
- Main article: Lasting power of attorney (Singapore)
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows a person who is at least 21 years of age (the donor) to voluntarily appoint one or more persons (the donee) to make decisions and act on the person's behalf as his/her proxy decision maker if the person should one day lose mental capacity in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act. Donees can be appointed to act in 2 broad areas: personal welfare as well as in matters of property and finance.
Once a same-sex couple has a child, they are strongly advised to have an LPA made out. Since the early 2010s, the Office of the Public Guardian has simplified the process greatly to encourage more Singaporeans to plan ahead to protect their interests - both partners just need to fill up an LPA form in the presence of a witness. The form is then brought to the Office of the Public Guardian which will submit it on behalf of the signatories.
Benefits of making LPA
An LPA allows the partner making the document (the donor) to appoint his/her spouse as the person (the donee) who can automatically step forward to act on his/her behalf if a doctor certifies that the donor has lost mental capacity after an accident or illness. The LPA ensures that one's partner will have the right to take over the guardianship of one's child, property, bank accounts, etc., to continue administration of the necessary.
If a person were to lose his mental capacity suddenly, his/her spouse will not be automatically given the right to make decisions on the incapacitated person’s behalf or have access to his money. Without an LPA, the person's spouse needs to apply to court for an order to administer the affairs of the incapacitated individual. This court order is one where the court appoints a person to be the deputy to manage the affairs of the person who has lacks mental capacity. An LPA avoids the hassle of getting such a court order which can be both time-consuming and expensive, to the tune of thousands of dollars. The process could create stress and inconvenience for the healthy spouse who would have to pay for the incapacitated partner’s care and maintenance as well as expenses relating to the court order application.
If an LPA is not drawn up and a person subsequently loses his mental capacity to make certain decisions, someone who might not be the person's choice, for example a relative, could apply to court:
- to be given the authority to make decisions for the incapacitated person as his/her deputy; or
- to appoint one or more persons to be the person's deputies to make decisions for the incapacitated person.
When this occurs, there is the possibility that the deputy making decisions on behalf of the incapacitated person is not aware of the person's interests, preferences and beliefs and therefore, may not act in his/her best interests.
The LPA also allows donees to immediately start managing donors' matters (personal welfare and/or property and affairs) instead of having to wait for the entire court selection process of appointing a deputy before any action can be taken. This means much quicker access to the donor's bank accounts and insurance payouts to ensure that they can pay for the donor's medical care and upkeep. This is particularly important if the the donor is the sole breadwinner as it ensures that there is no break in access to funds for his/her unemployed spouse.
If donors do not wish to appoint their spouses as donees, they have the option of appointing professional donees, thanks to changes to the Mental Capacity Act which have enabled this course of action. They may prefer this alternative if they have complex instructions about their care and assets, which may be better understood by professionals or if they want to prevent heated disagreements with their spouse. At present, only those from selected professions such as lawyers, accountants, healthcare and social service professionals who meet certain criteria and pass a certification course can apply to be registered as professional deputies or donees. These professions were chosen by the Office of the Public Guardian because they have the necessary skills and experience to competently handle decisions on behalf of the mentally incapacitated.
Ultimately, making an LPA provides certainty and peace of mind for donors and their spouses. It enables donors to plan ahead and make choices for their future before they loses their mental capacity. Therefore, LPAs are not just for the elderly as younger people may also become incapacitated via an accident or illness. There have been numerous examples of young, healthy people being struck down by severe illness or getting involved in a car accident which reduced them reduced to a vegetative state. When this happens, the young person is no longer be in a position to manage his/her personal or financial affairs. In such cases, any will that the person has prepared will apply because the provisions of a will only operate when the individual has passed on. However, if the person had made an LPA before he lost his mental capacity, his interests would have been protected when he became vulnerable. A healthy person may think there was no need for an LPA and that a will would suffice. But the truth of the matter is that one does not know if or when one may suddenly lose mental capacity. Life is unpredictable, and it pays to be always prepared.
Once an individual has a child, it is also strongly recommended that the person write a will. The will may be worded simply but ensures that the non-biological parent gains guardianship.
If an unmarried biological mother dies without a will, her child will go to her siblings or parents. Without a will, her same-sex partner gets nothing. It does not matter if the couple has decided to be coparents - the biological mother's biological family will get the child. You must state in your will that if you die, your child's guardians will be so and so. If your child is below 21, you need to appoint 2 guardians if you are leaving part of your estate to the child. The child may have 1 guardian but you need to have 2 trustees who will hold your estate in trust for the child until he reaches 21 or whichever age you have decided to state in your will. eg. 25 years of age if you don't trust your child to manage the money before that age. Don't think that just because your are young, nothing is going to happen and you don't have to make a will until you are 50. Accidents can happen and you want to be prepared. We recommend that you make a will once you get pregnant. If anything happens to you in the labour room, you want to be prepared. Other things to include in your will is how many percent of your estate you want to leave to your partner so that your partner can help to bring up the child.
Does not include CPF, so remember to do CPF nomination - Wills do not include CPF, so do CPF nomination.
Your partner should do the same for you. If something happens to both of you at the same time, who gets the child? If both die at the same time, the person who is older's estate will go to the person who is younger. The latter's estate will be distributed according to his will. The younger one's will will clearly have to state that if he dies, who gets the child. Who are the guardians. You need to talk to the guardians you have nominated. Do not throw children to whoever. Make sure you inform them and they agree. If you give your child to someone who does not want it, you are condemning it to a lifetime of misery. Ensure that you have left your child enough of your estate so that the person who is bringing up your child is not burdened financially too. Buy life insurance too for yourself.
What if the guardians change their minds about taking care of the child after you die? That is why you can nominate more than one guardian. You can state if the first guardian changes his mind, there is the second option and then the third option. A lot of legal complications you need to clearly think through. The will cannot be challenged even if parents don't approve of the relationship. Good thing is that Singapore law is very clear. So don't do the will yourself. Get it signed at the attorney's office. If there is a will, it is very hard to challenge because it is very clear in Singapore law. They can try but very hard.
If want to protect assets, can set up offshore concession or new structure known as private interest foundation, almost literally like a will except that all the assets are actually placed in the foundation and all the legality associated with the assets will continue indefinitely until such time that whoever you bequeath the private interest foundation to .
How to navigate Shariah law. Muslims are bound unless want to apostasise. Wills according to one-third system. In Shariah law, parents have precedence over partner. Shariah overrides secular will, only a wish list. In interreligious couple, non-Muslim partner will have according to secular will.
Expatriate same-sex parents
What about overseas married couples who bring their children to Singapore? Any legal issues? We know of lesbian couple who adopted a child in Singapore from South Africa. Unless the adoption is formalised overseas, you will still need approval from the MSF. Not automatically granted PR rights. After bring in child, have to apply for short term visit pass and then long term visit pass, then a dependent pass then PR if that's applicable.
Strategies for advocating same-sex parent equality
Role models and acceptance by the mainstream media.
Sayoni is working on the child rights convention. Without feedback from LGBT parents, it cannot bring up points at the UN. Easier to argue from point of view of child. Another angle can consider going after. Sayoni needs feedback from gay parents.
Arguing for equal rights at the UN from the point of view of the child.
Many gay parents are not visible in the community, very low profile. Rights of the child also important so that they can understand their unique situation. That is why it's important to build a community support network.
Same-sex parents featured in mainstream media
"James" and "Shawn"
On Monday, 17 December 2018, the High Court issued a landmark ruling on LGBT rights when it approved, on appeal, a gay Singaporean man's bid to adopt his biological son, whom he fathered in the United States through a surrogate mother for US$200,000 (SGD$275,000).
Pearlyn and Brenda
On 26 November 2020, HoneyKids Asia featured lesbian parents Pearlyn and Brenda. They met at a club 16 years ago when Brenda’s group of friends came over to Pearlyn's group of buddies and wanted to borrow an ID to get in, and they had been together even since. Both managed a balloon and party company so they were naturally around children all the time, which caused them to want to start a family. They made the decision when they were 20 and 23, and saved up throughout the years while doing a lot of research and waiting for the right moment to start trying.
The couple at first resorted to IVF with a sperm donor, which was a very emotional and mentally draining process for them. They tried IUI 4 times (2 in Australia and 2 in Cambodia) but it failed. They then went on to IVF in Cambodia and it turned out successful. The trial period lasted around two years when there was a lot of drama with the hormones raging, tears and waiting. For each try, they had to fly on the day itself, as the eggs needed to be fresh. On top of all the stress, they had to manage work and arrange last-minute flights. However, the feeling of unconditional love after the birth of their child was incredibly overwhelming and inspiring. Pearlyn never knew she could be capable of so much love and knowing that a child depended on her for survival made her stronger. Their daughter, Velda, was already nine months old in November 2020.
They were still getting the hang of explaining the situation to others, experimenting to see which were the best answers to give to strangers. It was a daily process educating and explaining their family dynamics to people. Sometimes, they just brushed it off as the explaining process could get tedious and not easy to do when they were in a rush. Mainly, they told others that they were an LGBT family unit. People were mostly very curious about the entire process and how it could be done and surprisingly, they had had quite a number of positive vibes from the older folk, although explaining things tood a little longer. They found younger people more “woke”, so it was easier to explain it to them. The reactions they got were mostly positive encouragements and for those who did not agree, they would just leave it be. As two mothers, they were most worried about their child’s reaction to the public’s opinions of their family unit. They could control what happened in their family – raising the child to be resilient and teaching her life skills – but they could not control other people. Whatever happened, they resolved to find a way to work it out.
To divide the responsibilities regarding raising their child, it helped that they had worked and lived together for so long which enabled them to virtually understand each other even without speaking. So the chores and responsibilities are divided equally, with no fixed schedules. If one person is felt a little burned out, the other stepped in and fulfilled what needed to be done. It was very important for both parties to make things work and it could never be a one sided effort. They had such an enjoyable time during Pearlyn's confinement, taking care of Velda, and discovering their new routine. They felt it was like a dream come true and they appreciated every moment they had with her.
On 25 May 2021, Something Private, a fortnightly podcast for Southeast Asian women by Southeast Asian women, uploaded the following video featuring Pearlyn, Brenda and baby Velda to its YouTube channel, as well as Spotify, Apple and Google podcast, to celebrate Pride Month which was due to take place in June.
"What does it take to start a family? For same-sex couples in Singapore, the reality is expensive and illegal. But for Brenda and Pearlyn, who have been together for 17 years, they knew from the moment they met each other, that having a child was a priority. Despite naysayers who accuse them of being “selfish” for subjecting a child to a same-sex parenthood, and four failed attempts in getting pregnant through a donor sperm, the two delivered baby Velda early last year, and share that they count their blessings everyday. This Pride Month, we’re celebrating the right to love equally, with Brenda, Pearlyn and Velda’s story. (Check out Two Moms on IG at https://www.instagram.com/twomomssg/)"
Surveys on same-sex parenting in Singapore
IPS Survey: Our Singaporean Values, 2021
In early February 2021, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) published a study entitled Our Singaporean Values. It was the first of a 3-part series presenting the salient findings from the latest instalment of the World Values Survey (WVS) which was the largest non-commercial, cross-national, and time-series survey of public attitudes and values globally. Spanning 80 countries and then in its seventh iteration, WVS sought to study individuals' changing values across polities and their impact on social and political life.
The survey found that:
- Over a quarter of Singapore respondents agreed or strongly agreed that homosexual parents were just as good as other couples. This proportion was low compared to most other societies globally. Given how a minority of the population (40.7%) indicated that homosexuality was sometimes, mostly, or always justifiable, it was remarkable to find that the majority of respondents indicated agreement or were neutral on the view that homosexual parents were as good as other couples – in this case, the implied comparison being with heterosexual parents. More than 28% either agreed or strongly agreed that homosexual parents were as good as other couples in parenting, while about a third expressed neutrality. However, when compared against selected polities globally, Singaporean respondents were generally more conservative. Positive appraisals of homosexual parents were as high as 76.6% in Sweden, and 64.2% in the United Kingdom. Only China, Malaysia and South Korea were more conservative than Singapore to this regard.
- Men were more likely to express neutrality vis-à-vis homosexual parents. Younger, non-religious, more educated, and more affluent respondents were more likely to view homosexual parents as good as other couples When perusing results by gender, it was found that a larger proportion of male respondents (35.9%) remained neutral about whether homosexual parents were as good at parenting as other couples, as compared with 28.8% of female respondents. Female respondents were more likely to indicate clear stances on homosexual parenting and eschew neutrality. This suggests that male respondents were on the whole more undecided about homosexual couples’ parenting abilities compared their female peers.
When compared across other demographic variables, respondents who were younger, had no religion or were Taoist, had higher education levels, or lived in larger housing were more likely to agree that homosexual parents were as good as other couples. At the outset, younger respondents were more likely to agree with this statement. In particular, the youngest group had the highest agreement rates compared with the other age groups. However, it also had the highest proportion choosing “neither agree nor disagree” (39.1%). Nonetheless, it did appear that there was overall a slightly more positive opinion of homosexual parents amongst younger respondents, especially those aged between 21 and 35.
Given that there were some religious differences in the acceptance of homosexuality, the results for this statement were also examined across religions. It was unsurprising to find that respondents with no religion had the highest agreement rates when compared with other groups. Taoists or those who were practitioners of traditional Chinese religion had the second-highest agreement rates. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Protestants — of which 86.6% had said that homosexuality was not justified — had the highest disagreement rate of 57.2%. This was the only group where more than half indicated disagreement. Though Muslims had the second-highest disagreement rate at 48.4%, it was interesting to note that 32.2% of Muslims expressed neutrality vis-à-vis the statement — a very similar proportion compared to respondents with no religion.
When considering education and housing, there were positive correlations between these two variables and the propensity of respondents to view that homosexual parents are as good as other couples. Compared with 24.1% of the respondents with below secondary school education, 33.6% of those with university degrees agreed with the statement. In addition, 30.8% of the private property dwellers agreed as compared to 28% of those living in 1- to 3-room flats indicating likewise. There was a corresponding decline in disagreement rates as education levels increased and for larger housing types; 51.8% of the respondents with below secondary education and 41% of those living in 1- to 3-room flats either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the statement, but this proportion dropped to 32.9% for degree holders and 37.1% for those living in private property respectively.
Finally, respondents with higher income levels were slightly more likely to remain neutral, and considerably less likely to say they disagreed with the statement relative to their less well-off counterparts.
- LGBT parenting
- Rainbow Parents SG
- Child adoption in Singapore
- Child adoption by same-sex couples in Singapore
- High Court allows gay father to adopt surrogate son, December 2018
- The Rainbow Parents SG website and Facebook page.
- The Chiongs, "A blog about same-sex parenting, accepting happiness & other life hacks".
- Joe Wong, "Child Adoption in Singapore for trans people", "The Sons" blog, 11 April 2014.
- Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), "Who can adopt?".
- Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Adoption home page.
- Olivia Chiong, "VIDEO: Same-sex Parenting in Singapore", The Chiongs blog, 2 May 2015,:
- Reuters, "No difference in kids with same-sex, opposite-sex parents: study", Channel News Asia, 24 June 2015.
- Lee Min Kok, "Adopting a child in Singapore: 9 things to note", The Straits Times, 4 January 2016,.
- Olivia Chiong, book launch of "Baby Zoey: Our Search for Life & Family", 30 April 2016, YouTube:
- Janice Tai, "askST: What are the procedures a same-sex couple have to go through to adopt a child?", The Straits Times, 5 February 2017.
- Theresa Tan, "Egg donors come to the rescue of couples with fertility issues", The Straits Times, 5 February 2017.
- Michael Wee, "Genetics, identity and three-parent babies", The Straits Times, 26 July 2017.
- Blowing Wind discussion on surrogacy:.
- K. C. Vijayan, "Singapore court rejects bid by gay man to adopt child he fathered through surrogacy", The Straits Times, 27 December 2017.
- Agence France-Presse, "Singapore court stops gay doctor’s bid to adopt US-born surrogate son", South China Morning Post, 28 December 2017.
- Kok Xinghui, "Where to go, what to do? Family in Singapore’s gay surrogacy adoption case face life in limbo", South China Morning Post, 9 January 2018.
- KC Vijayan, "Landmark High Court case allows Singaporean gay dad to adopt surrogate son", The Straits Times, 17 December 2018.
- Kok Xinghui, "Singapore allows gay couple to adopt their surrogate son in landmark ruling", South China Morning Post, 17 December 2018.
- Rahimah Rashith, "Gay parents seeking to adopt their kids may find it harder to prove they did not intend to violate policy against same-sex families: Desmond Lee", The Straits Times, 19 December 2018.
- Kok Xinghui, "‘A huge load off our shoulders’: gay Singapore couple open up after landmark adoption case", South China Morning Post, 22 December 2018.
- Rachel Au-Yong, "Family life takes shape for gay couple after adoption ruling", The Straits Times, 23 December 2018[Family life takes shape for gay couple after adoption ruling].
- Shawna Tang, "Same-sex partnering and same-sex parented families in Singapore" (Chapter 10, 17 pages) in "Family and Population Changes in Singapore: A Unique Case in the Global Family Change" edited by Wei-Jun Jean Yeung, Shu Hu, Routledge, 20 April 2018, ISBN 9781351109871,,.
- Rachel Au-Yong, "Parliament: Authorities looking at adoption laws and surrogacy, do not support gay families, says Minister Desmond Lee", The Straits Times, 14 January 2019.
- Reuters, "Singapore’s gay adoption case may lead to tighter laws to prevent ‘formation of same-sex family units’", South China Morning Post, 14 January 2019.
- Kok Xinghui, "Why some members of Singapore’s LGBT community prefer life in the shadows", South China Morning Post, 6 February 2019.
- KC Vijayan, "Gay man's adoption of biological child: Chief Justice says it is not the courts' business to formulate policy", The Straits Times, 12 March 2019.
- KC Vijayan, "Court rejects bid by gay man to make partner guardian of his two surrogate children", The Straits Times, 17 February 2020.
- Jana Blanco, "Being a two-mum family in Singapore: it’s more normal than you think!", HoneyKids Asia, 26 November 2020.
- Same But Different: A Singapore LGBT Legal Guide For Couples & Families,.
Most Chinese Singaporean same-sex parents could identify strongly with the YouTube upload of a mainland Chinese talk show aired in 2007. A Date With Lu Yu (鲁豫有约) was one of the most influential talk shows in China with a reputation for constantly pushing the envelope and broaching topics considered too hot to handle. One such episode featured two homosexual men from Sichuan Province who, long before the word "gay" had entered the Chinese lexicon, married each other, adopted a son (who turned out to be heterosexual) and remained together for 21 years.
- Part 1 of5:
- Part 2 of5:
- Part 3 of5:
- Part 4 of5:
- Part 5 of5:
This article was written by Roy Tan using, as a starting point, the information presented by the Chiongs during their IndigNation 2013 talk entitled, "Same sex parenting: Raising new standards" on 4 August 2013 at DYMK.