In a move that has enormous impact for the LGBT community, India recently made changes that ban same-sex couples and singles from using surrogates in the country.
The Union home ministry has issued new requirements for foreigners accessing the surrogate market. Prospective parents are now required to secure a medical visa instead of a tourist visa, and only straight couples who’ve been married for more than two years qualify. As well, anyone from a country where surrogacy is illegal is now banned from using surrogacy in India.
Many fertility clinics and doctors are criticizing the changes as discriminatory. “Parenting is everybody’s right and now we’re withdrawing that right,” Dr. Rita Bakshi, head of the International Fertility Centre in New Delhi, told AFP. “These rules are definitely not welcome, definitely restrictive and very discriminatory.”
Hari Ramasubramanian, founding partner of Indian Surrogacy Law, shared similar sentiments. “A lot of people who will be affected had seen India as a wonderful option for getting into parenthood and now this option is closed,” he said. “It’s quite sad.”
A key surrogate market
Commercial surrogacy was made legal in India in 2002 as a way to tap into the growing demand for medical tourism — the practice of going abroad to get cheaper health care and medical procedures. In the US, surrogacy can cost $60,000 to $150,000. In India, the going rate is $18,000 to $30,000.
There is no official count but estimates put the annual number of Indian surrogate births at more than 1,000 per year, half of those for foreigners. All in, surrogacy in the country generates well over $2 billion in revenues.
Very few countries in the world allow commercial surrogacy. In the US, only a handful of states permit it, and the cost can make it prohibitive to many. With India now effectively off-limits to gay couples, it will be harder for gay men to have biological children.
Are you a gay couple whose plans for surrogacy have been derailed by this new legislation? Share your story in the comments.