Swedish Gay Men's Pursuit of Fatherhood

Legal Obstacles and Strategies for Coping With Them

  • Anna Malmquist
  • Alexander Spånberg Ekholm
Keywords: gay father, legal obstacles, LGBT family, surrogacy, shared parenting, foster care


The aim of the present work is to explore how gay fathers have experienced legal obstacles throughout their process of becoming fathers, and what strategies they have used to cope with the difficulties they have met. The study used semi-structured interviews to capture the fathers’ experiences, and a constructivist grounded theory to analyse the data. Interviews with thirty gay fathers in Sweden were included in the study. The participants had become fathers through surrogacy, shared parenthood with women, or foster care. Legal obstacles had played a prominent role in all three family forms, as well as in adoption – which some participants had unsuccessfully pursued. Obstacles marked both their pursuit of fatherhood and their establishment of legal custody. Some participants had eventually given up their initially preferred path to parenthood and searched for another route. To overcome legal obstacles, the participants had utilised one or more strategies; such as being persistent and well prepared, pretending to be straight, and finding access to assisted reproduction treatment abroad. Regardless of the path to parenthood, the participants stressed the necessity of possessing adequate personal or economic resources to become parents.


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How to Cite
Malmquist, A., & Spånberg Ekholm, A. (2020). Swedish Gay Men’s Pursuit of Fatherhood: Legal Obstacles and Strategies for Coping With Them. Lambda Nordica, 24(2-3), 53-80. https://doi.org/10.34041/ln.v24.580