A French adoption official has caused controversy by saying that gay and lesbian couples are only able to adopt “damaged” children.
Pascale Lemare, who is the adoption services head in the Seine-Maritime region of Normandy, said that heterosexual couples would be prioritised for adoptions in the region.
According to AFP, Lemare made the comments in an interview with local radio on Tuesday.
During the interview with France Bleu, Lemare said that gay couples were likely to be left with the children that heterosexual couples did not want to adopt due to their age, size or even their disability.
“Children that no one wants – there are people who don’t want to adopt children who are too damaged, too psychologically damaged, too big, or handicapped,” she explained.
Lemare was then asked whether it was more difficult for gay and lesbian couples to adopt younger or healthier children in the region.
The official replied: “There are parents who correspond better to the required criteria.”
When asked whether this explicitly meant a same-sex couple were unlikely to be allowed to adopt a younger child, Lemare said no.
She then stated that gay and lesbian couples were “a little atypical, you might say, with regard to social norms and biological norms.
“If their plan includes children with atypical profiles… if homosexual couples have open expectations, they can indeed adopt a child.”
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Lemare’s comments have been widely criticised by other officials and LGBT rights activists.
The head of the Seine-Maritime region, Pascal Martin, told AFP that he “very strongly condemned” Lemare’s statement.
“In no case is the sexual orientation of future parents a criteria of evaluation,” in Seine-Maritime, Martin said.
Alexandre Urwicz, the head of France’s Association of Same-Sex Parents, stated that he would be pursuing a legal complaint against Lemare for discriminating against same-sex couples.
Gay and lesbian couples have had the right to adopt and marry in France since 2013, following the introduction of a bill by then-President Francois Hollande.
At the time, the reform was opposed by more than 1,000 mayors and France’s Catholic Church.
France had previously allowed civil unions, but it was a campaign pledge of President Hollande to introduce marriage rights for gay couples.
When the bill was introduced, President Hollande told his cabinet that the bill would mean “progress not only for individuals but for the whole of society.”
In 2017, the French Government of President Macron said that it plans to legislate to allow lesbian couples access to assisted procreation.