Last week saw the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald say that the Government currently has no plans to allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.
Responding to a question, from Sinn Fein’s justice spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien, about the reasons for not introducing legislation to allow same-sex couples to adopt Fitzgerald stated;
The Adoption Act already provides that an individual habitually resident in the State, or a couple married to each other, each of whom is habitually resident in the State, may apply to Health Service Executive for an assessment of eligibility and suitability to adopt. It is currently not possible for two unmarried persons to jointly adopt a child in Ireland.
At present there are no legislative proposals in relation to this matter.
Both married couples and single people are eligible to adopt and yes this does include gay people too, once they’re single. You can probably guess where I’m going here, why is it okay for a single person to adopt regardless of their sexuality but once it comes the couples an issue arises?
An argument, for not allowing gay couples to adopt, that I hear a lot is that it’s not fair on the child, he/she will be bullied as a result of their family situation. Seriously, I’ve actually heard this from people I would’ve considered friends and it’s normally followed by them telling me they meant no offence. Well they’ll just have to deal with the fact that I’m offended.
Bullying happens in many forms and for various reasons, we all know that, but to say that a child with gay parents will automatically be subjected to it is just plain wrong.
Another one that gets bandied about is that a child needs two parents, a mother and a father, and whilst this is great if you’re able to do it, it isn’t always possible.
There are many reasons why a child might be raised by single parent, some will see their other parent whilst for others, again, this may not be possible. Are these children to be deprived of the care and love that is available to them by the parent(s) that they do have contact with? No? Well then why should it be any different for a child who has either two fathers or two mothers?
But hang on, the government have clearly dispelled the idea that the ‘bullying issue’ should make being a gay parent a non starter and accepted that two parent families aren’t always an option because single people, regardless of sexuality, are eligible to adopt.
You can see my confusion, right? I’m back to the why am I deemed eligible to become the mother when I’m single but not if I’m in a relationship and we want to adopt together?
Quite honestly, I don’t have a sensible answer for that. I know it’s because I can’t get married but I don’t understand why I can’t get married either.
Yes, last year’s Civil Partnership and Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act was a step forward as it offered legal recognition of same-sex relationships for the first time but it did nothing to discuss the problems surrounding children (either biological or adopted) and it’s clearly not about equality. Equality would mean civil marriage for all.
You’ll note that I said civil marriage, I’m not looking for recognition from any religion (religion and I parted ways years ago anyway,) I’m looking for my government to recognise that I’m here and that I’m equal.
Religion should play no part in the discussion and the reason for this is simple, the government and the church aren’t the same thing.
How does my being able to marry in a registry office adversely affect your life anyway? You’re not being forced to go and witness every ceremony first hand, are you? No? Well then carry on as you are and let me do the same.
Having said all that, with the constitutional convention planned for sometime this Spring we may just see some light at the end of the inequality tunnel. At least I hope we do.