Saturday, 1 February 2014

Malta Today: Paediatricians issue guarded statement over gay adoption

Doctors say married parents offer stability and unique influence to children, and urge caution on gay adoptions
Saturday 1 February 2014 - 08:32 by Matthew Vella

Paediatricians said children thrive in both traditional and non-traditional families, but have shown preference for married couples.

The Maltese Paediatric Association has called on MPs to give "due weight" to the "stability and the unique influence that a married couple can give to the child" in a statement on the adoption of children by gay couples.

The doctors were unequivocal in their statement that married parents created the "best environment" for children but did not discount gay adoptions outright. "Nonetheless children can thrive well in a variety of family types including single and same-gender parents. The Association is committed to equally support children in traditional and non-traditional families."

The statement, signed by president Prof. Thomas Attard and secretary Dr Juanita Debattista, carried the disclaimer that gay adoption was an emotive issue and that the association's role was neither to endorse nor condemn sexual orientation. "The guiding principle and main concern of the Association is the welfare of the child."

The doctors however claimed that there was "a lack of scientific research in the local context" and urged MPs to "proceed with caution" before enacting any laws.

"Civil authorities should ensure that all types of families are regulated and protected by the law, and supported to build and maintain strong and stable families to provide a healthy environment for their children. The law should also safeguard the civil and legal rights of children irrespective of their families’ structure.

"In the enactment and implementation of laws regulating adoption, the best interests of the child should be the paramount consideration, and should take precedence over the interests of adults. Emphasis should be placed on a thorough assessment of all applicants in their competency as parents to provide affection and security to the child. Among the several factors that should be considered in the screening process, the Association recommends that due weight is given to the stability and the unique influence a married couple can give to the child."

The Labour government is pioneering a civil unions bill that will give full equality to gay couples and unmarried opposite-sex couples registered in unions, including the right to adopt children.

The Nationalist opposition says it wants a social impact assessment on the effects of gay adoption.

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