Sweden Approves Same-Sex Adoption Plan
[STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN] - Swedish legislators voted Wednesday to let same-sex couples adopt children -- a decision that gay activists hailed as a step toward gaining the full benefits of marriage.
Under the bill, gays registered in a legal partnership, allowed in Sweden since 1995, can be considered joint adoptive parents of children adopted in the country or abroad. One of the partners also will be able to adopt the child of another.
The measures, approved after several hours of heated debate in parliament, make the nation of about 9 million people one of the few countries to give homosexuals the right to enter legal partnerships and adopt children.
Even rarer was the inclusion of adoptions of children abroad, although it could have little practical effect since most countries forbid adoption by homosexuals.
The law will probably take effect early next year.
The Social Democratic-led Swedish government proposed the law after a parliamentary research committee found that gay couples would have the same ability to care for the children.
Alf Svensson, the leader of the opposition Christian Democrats, had appealed to lawmakers to "make sure that adopted children will be spared experiencing something that every child should be guaranteed not having to experience, that of having only two fathers or only two mothers."
Gay activists applauded the bill, saying it will bring them closer to gaining the full benefits of marriage.
Sweden and fellow Nordic nations Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland already recognize legal partnerships between gays, but only Denmark and Iceland allow adoption.
"We are now going to fight for the possibility to marry under the same laws as straight couples," said Robert Karlsson Svaerd, a spokesman for the Swedish Federation for Gay and Lesbian Rights.