Mumbai: In a big development, the Union Home Ministry has come up with new guidelines which bars foreign gay and lesbian couples from seeking surrogacy services in India. Furthermore, only those couples who have been married for at least two years can apply for babies via surrogacy.
IVF Specialist Dr Anirudh Malpani said, "This is a really a backward step for multiple reasons. If there is an alternative lifestyle, which is a gay lifestyle, why should we say that they are not going to be good parents as compared to, let's say, the traditional heterosexual couples? So I think that's very unfair. Equally important, I think this is discriminatory, in the sense that if you are an Indian gay couple or an Indian single man who wants to have an surrogacy child you allow him to do that."
The Home Ministry has taken this decision after a couple of controversial cases where children born out of surrogacy in India were stuck in no-man's land with no citizenship. Besides being homophobic, experts are saying these new rules are inconsistent with the guidelines from the Indian Council of Medical Research that does not impose any such restrictions.
DG ICMR Reproductive Health Dr RS Sharma said, "There are a lot of malpractices going on, therefore there is a need to have a law. Once this bill is passed, then this whole industry will be very smooth. There will be no problem."
Experts are also questioning the rationale behind the two-year married clause. Dr Malpani added, "It doesn't serve a purpose, that's the point! The understanding is that if we have been married for two years, it is a stable marriage. but people get divorced after seven years. And if you are already forty years when you are married, you don't have the luxury of the time to wait."
Commercial surrogacy is a 445 million dollar business in India and IVF Specialists are confused as to when these new guidelines become effective from and more importantly, what happens to those foreigners who are already in the middle of a surrogacy procedure in India. Hopefully, once the ART Bill is passed in the Parliament, some questions will be answered.