Surrogate Motherhood For Gay Couples To Be Banned By India? Bollywood Reacts

In a recent blog, South African Triplets Born To Same-Sex Couple. Have DNA Of Both Fathers, most were supportive of the news that a family of 5 was made possible through science, love, and a money transaction.  Theo and Christo's family may not have existed unless there was a surrogate.  Some non-supporters said they should have adopted, but since surrogacy is allowed in South Africa, why not do it.   This may not be an option for many in India very soon.

The Indian government has moved forward a ban that would outlaw all commercial surrogacy in the country.  If approved by parliament, Surrogacy Bill 2016 would block same-sex couples, single parents, live-in couples and foreigners from hiring Indian surrogates to have a baby.  Only infertile couples who live in India and have been married for at least five years would be able to use a surrogate. And that woman must be a close relative.

India's foreign minister, who helped draft the bill, told The Washington Post, "Many so-called childless couples were misusing the wombs of poor women. It was a matter of great worry because there were instances where a girl child or disabled child have been abandoned soon after birth."

The ban would be a big blow to the lucrative but unregulated surrogacy industry in India.  During the past decade, the country has become one of the top surrogacy destinations for childless couples around the world.  Officials say there are about 2,000 surrogacy clinics across India, and a New Delhi advocacy group estimates the industry brings in about $400 million per year.

Officials say if the bill is approved, the ban would go into effect 10 months later to allow pregnant women who have already been hired as surrogates to give birth.  – turnto23.com

The ban was set into action October, 2015, but has to go in front of the country's highest court before it is made law.  The new law would encompass some old statutes and solidify them with the new ban. 

Commercial surrogacy is a booming industry in India, and in recent years the ranks of childless foreign couples looking for a low-cost, legally simple route to parenthood have been joined by gay couples and singles.

The measures mark the first step to the regulation of "surrogacy tourism" in India.  The rules say foreign couples seeking to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in India must be a "man and woman (who) are duly married and the marriage should be sustained at least two years". – telegraph.co.uk, Jan 2013

So the recent reaction by the gay community is possibly 3 years late.  It does seem the words gay and homosexual are being used this time around to bring more attention to all the changes in India's policy.  What many may be hoping is while the high court looks at this new ban, maybe it will look at previous bans, too. 

What do surrogates and the nation have to loose if India bans a practice made legal 15 years ago?

India's home ministry has ordered Indian embassies abroad not to grant visas to couples visiting the country for surrogacy, or "reproductive tourism" as the practice has come to be known.  Though laws governing surrogacy have yet to be passed, the government outlined its position in an affidavit placed before the Supreme Court on October 28.  It said India "does not support commercial surrogacy and the scope of surrogacy is limited to Indian married infertile couples only, and not to foreigners."

A previous order had already barred gay and unmarried couples and single people from hiring surrogates.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the tightening of rules concerning surrogacy was to protect poor women from being exploited in the absence of legal safeguards.

Chavan, who served as a surrogate mother for two foreign couples, said her earnings through the two surrogate pregnancies ensured that her three children were able to complete their high school educations.  "Were it not for the surrogacy money, I would have had to pull them out of school," the 35-year-old said.  She currently works as a nanny helping parents look after their newborn surrogate babies during the time they are waiting to obtain visas for the infants.  "This ban does not help anyone. It has closed the door for poor people like us to earn a little money," Chavan said.  She said she made $7,700 for each surrogacy. That's typical for Gujarat, where the industry is most organised, but women in other states may be paid as little as $2,300.

Banning it, they say, will only drive it underground. "In the last decade, fertility clinics that carry out surrogacy have come up everywhere — in the major metros as well as in small towns. And with it, there is a growing tribe of agents — men who procure poor women to serve as surrogates," said Manasi Mishra, a New Delhi-based researcher and author of two government-funded reports on surrogacy in India.  "These men are not going to give up their professional business. The whole practice will go underground, and it will be very hard to check the exploitation of the women hired as surrogates," Mishra said.

Since India legalised commercial surrogacy in 2001, thousands of fertility clinics have mushroomed across the country, making it a $1 billion to $2.3 billion business annually. Although there are no official figures available, a 2012 United Nations (UN) report said there were around 3,000 fertility clinics in India.

The clinics have attracted couples from Britain, the United States (US), Australia, South Africa and Japan. A surrogate pregnancy costs around $20,000 to $35,000 in India, compared to around $150,000 in the US, where surrogacy is permitted in many but not all states. Other countries that allow surrogacy include Russia, Georgia and Ukraine.

Thailand also had been a popular destination for those wanting a baby through surrogacy, but after recent scandals involving foreign clients, the country passed a law in August banning commercial surrogacy.  – dawn.com, Nov, 2015

Since the bill is now being reviewed by the high court, people are reacting. Here are three responses from some well-known Bollywood personalities.

 

Onir: "I've mixed reactions to this. I feel in a democracy single or gay people should not be discriminated against regarding the right to parenthood .But at the same time I think couples or single individuals desirous of a child should rather adopt. But then everyone should have a choice to decide how they wish to become parents."

Apurva Asrani: (gay film editor, filmmaker and writer of Shahid and Aligarh): "I'm glad that the Government at least uttered the word 'homosexual'. Till recently the word never 'came out' of politicians' mouths. Remember the PM's condolence tweet on the Orlando shooting? At least here Sushma Swaraj has acknowledged the community. Heartening to know that they know of its existence. And why are we surprised about being refused to right to surrogate parenthood? As if being deemed criminal is a less cruel stand by our government!"

Celina Jaitly: "I am truly not surprised at the latest move barring foreign gay couples and single people from using surrogate mothers to become parents, well it was expected sooner than later I reckon as our government had said sometime earlier that it would ban foreigners from using surrogate mothers in the country, a move likely to hit the booming commercial surrogacy industry. Honestly what do we expect in a country where homosexuality is considered a criminal offence under the colonial section 377. Honestly, I at the moment am more concerned about the millions of LGB people in my country for whom marriage and parenting is a very very distant dream considering their very existence and being is not recognised under the pretext of religion and archaic laws ." – www.bollywoodhungama.com

 

Should we react to this ban? 

Does it affect our community? 

Do you agree with the Indian Government? 

Or is this just government interfering with a woman's reproductive rights?

Or is the "selling of humans" something that needs to be regulated, banned?

What do you think?