Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma [official website, in Russian], on Friday unanimously approved a ban on the adoption of orphans by foreign same-sex couples and single foreign nationals who reside in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. The bill will need approval from the upper house and President Vladimir Putin [official website], processes that are often times considered formalities, before it becomes law. Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak defended the bill [BBC report] as a means of protecting children. Late last year Russia banned Americans [BBC report] from adopting Russian children, which may have been in retaliation for the enactment of the Magnitsky Act [JURIST op-ed].
Same-sex adoption rights [JURIST news archive] have created controversy worldwide. Last month Portugal's Parliament [official website] voted to approve a law allowing same-sex married couples to adopt [JURIST report] their partners' children. In February Puerto Rico's Supreme Court upheld a law banning same-sex couples from adopting children. Earlier that week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a woman in a same-sex relationship could adopt her partner's biological child [JURIST report]. Also in February the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled that same-sex couples in a civil union can legally adopt [JURIST report] the non-biological children of their partners. Similarly, the Northern Ireland High Court [official website] held [JURIST report] in October that a law permitting adoption only by heterosexual married couples or single individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, is unlawful. Also in October, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals [official website] upheld a law limiting marriage as a union between and one man and one woman. That ruling effectively barred a woman from adopting her female partner's child [JURIST report].