Draft Bill does not even mention ban on gay couples
Following the recent media reports about ineligibility of gay couples or single parents undergoing surrogacy treatments in India, leading embryologist and Surrogacy Programme Director Dr Samit Sekhar responds to the hitherto unfounded claims.
“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 prevail.
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.”