As readers of this blog know, we have been covering the ongoing debate about the pending legislation being considered by the Indian Parliament that will regulate its emerging surrogacy industry. Among one of the most contentious issues is whether India will allow same-sex couples to work with surrogates. The Communications Consultant for Indian-Surrogacy.com was kind enough to provide me with the statement of a prominent Indian embryologyist and surrogacy program director at the Kiran Infertility Centre in Hyderabad, Dr. Samit Sekhar, on the viability of gay couples proceeding with surrogates in India.
To be clear, Dr. Sekhar’s position on the matter is in conflict with other experts who have also opined on the impact of existing Indian law regarding homosexuality as well as the impact of the pending legislation. While ultimately time will tell what the legislation will contain, I wanted to present the other side of the debate:
“Every day seems to bring new reports about how the proposed Assisted Reproductive Technology
(Regulation) Bill 2010 is going to effectively ban Gay Couples/ Single Parents from surrogacy in India.
Comments from an unnamed official are yet to be backed up by any real evidence of a version of the
Bill containing anything like what is being touted by media in India and Abroad.
The last public draft of the ART Bill included in its definitions the possibilities for couples, regardless of
sexuality who’s relationship or marital status is recognized in their home country to be eligible for
surrogacy treatment in India, and thus far we have seen nothing to indicate anything to the contrary.
And until such time as the Bill does become law, the precedent for eligibility is quite clearly laid down
in the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of Baby Manji Yamada Vs. Union of India in 2008, to
include a single parent, or a gay male couples.
The fact of the matter is that the Bill has a long way to go before it does become law and in the
meantime speculation based on the comments of few officials serves only to worry parents who are
currently undergoing surrogacy treatments in India. This leads to needless distress as the situation
remains unchanged. There should be a clear distinction between individual attitudes towards a
particular subject either being homosexuality or single parenthood and the actual legal precedents that
The Union Law Ministry will no doubt be considering the proposed legislation as it stands and are
likely to engage in a period of consultation, hopefully with practitioners and all the stakeholders before
making any changes and passing a finalized version of the Bill in both houses of Parliament for their
majority approval. I am confident that this will not be done hastily and that we will have our chance to
petition on behalf of all parties involved including all couples and single parents for their continued
eligibility for surrogacy as well as to input in to the broader regulations that the Bill outlines.
We personally support the aims of the Bill in general; to create ethical standards for assisted
reproductive treatment and to ensure that rights of all parties are protected – commissioning parents,
the surrogate and ultimately the baby. It seems that the underlying theme of the Bill is to remove
uncertainties over citizenship, establish rights and responsibilities and to avoid protracted legal cases
by setting out clear rules, and not to preclude certain people from this form of fertility treatment.”