Senior family judge says gays should be allowed to adopt

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The Independent Online

THE JUDGE in charge of family courts in England and Wales said yesterday that she supported the adoption of children by gay couples.

THE JUDGE in charge of family courts in England and Wales said yesterday that she supported the adoption of children by gay couples.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss said yesterday that it would be "wrong not to recognise" that different children need different types of parents, and there are "suitable families who are clearly not within the old-fashioned approach".

The newly appointed President of the Family Division at the High Court said that in recent years research had shown that for some children, adoption by same-sex parents was the best option available. She added: "It would be quite wrong when looking at the welfare of the child not to recognise that different children will need different types of parents."

She said that when she first started out in her career as a lawyer she was "surprised and dubious about the stability of children living in a family with two parents of the same sex".

Now, said Dame Elizabeth: "We live in a different world to that ... We should not close our minds to suitable families who are clearly not within the old-fashioned approach.

"Unmarried single parents do adopt children, and children can be very lucky in cases where it happens, to have these people as adopters.We should not treat the child in isolation but look at the needs of the child within the family," she said.

Stonewall, the group which campaigns for gay and lesbian rights, welcomed Dame Elizabeth's remarks.

A spokesman said: "We believe that children should live with parents who can love and care for them. Why should children be excluded from having the best parents just because of old prejudices?"

Dame Elizabeth, giving her first press conference in her new post, also described the present system of divorce as a "hypocritical charade".

She said that divorce could be arranged quickly if one of the partners was prepared to say they were guilty of unreasonable behaviour, otherwise they have to wait two years for consent. "No fault" divorces should be brought in as quickly as possible, she said.

Dame Elizabeth added that she supported the idea of pre-hearing mediation in family matters as a way of stopping the majority of such cases reaching the courts.