The cabinet on Aug 6 took the decision while considering amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, a government official said, according to livemint.com.
The bill will now be sent to parliament for ratification and the Indian president’s signature before being enacted.
In its draft stage it did not mention disallowing same-sex couples from adopting and India’s current law allows unmarried men and women above the age of 30 to adopt, irrespective of sexual orientation.
Hence single LGBT Indians are not specifically barred from adopting, but whether the cabinet decision will change this will only become clear when the Bill is tabled in parliament.
Many Indian LGBT persons in same-sex relationships have adopted children as single parents, but their partners have no legal rights over the child as Indian law criminalizes same-sex relations.
“At a time when the whole world is progressing with respect to LGBT rights, India has taken several steps back with this decision to prevent same-sex couples from adopting,” a 44-year-old lesbian parent who adopted a two-year-old girl with her partner two years ago, told livemint.com.
She had adopted the child as a single parent and her sister not her partner is the other legal guardian.
“This is the first time that the government has openly taken an anti-same-sex couple stand,” a Delhi-based LGBT activist was reported as saying.
Even without the anti-LGBT additions, there already exits several impediments as one of the documents to be submitted is a recommendation letter from the adaptive parent’s family. Since many India families are not supportive of the LGBT sexuality, decisions to adopt as a single parent are made difficult.
Gay rights activist Chayanika Shah said that the cabinet decision may not affect LGBT partners who have already got around the law to be adoptive parents as there is no existing recognition of same-sex couples in India law.
“This order then applies to any adoption that gay couples, whose relationships are recognized in their country of residence,” she said.
“In future if there are demands for any kind of similar recognition of rights in India, this government has clearly indicated that it does not support gay parenting,” Shah told livemint.com.
Women’s rights lawyer Veena Gowda pointed out that “government is putting the horse before the cart” because it has demonstrated the bias of the state against same-sex relationships.
Presently, the Central Adoption Resource Authority guidelines prevent foreigners in same-sex relationships from adopting children in India.
The authority is a statutory body of the ministry of women and child development that regulates adoption of children by foreigners and Indian residents through inter-country and in-country adoption regulations.