Tag Archives: Gay couples

Indian IVF bill may stop gay couple surrogacy

In the name of the fathers ... John Allen-Drury, left, and his partner, Darren, nurse their son, Noah, who was born in India using a surrogate mother. Photo: Graham Crouch

If the parents of newborn Noah Allen-Drury are lucky, their son will sleep through the noise as their flight from India lands in Sydney this morning.

Noah’s gay parents, however, are aware of legal turbulence that could prohibit the surrogacy arrangements that fulfilled their wish for a child.

A growing number of male couples from Australia and other Western countries are hiring surrogates in India to bear children, but that might no longer be possible if a draft bill to regulate IVF in India becomes law.

R.S. Sharma, the secretary of the committee writing a bill to govern assisted reproductive technology (ART), told the Herald that unless gay and lesbian relationships are legalised in India, gay couples would be excluded from hiring surrogates.

Delhi’s High Court recently overturned a 150-year-old section of the country’s penal code that outlawed ”carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

However, gay activists warn this ruling, which in effect decriminalised sodomy, does not legalise gay relationships, leaving the status of such relationships unclear.

“If our government does not permit gay relationships, then it certainly will not be permitted for foreign gay couples to come to this country and have a [surrogacy] agreement,” said Dr Sharma, who is the deputy director-general of the reproductive health and nutrition division at the India Council of Medical Research.

John and Darren Allen-Drury, who live in the Blue Mountains, raced to India earlier this month when their surrogate mother entered labour. She gave birth to Noah on April 8. John Allen-Drury said changes to India’s laws would be a great disappointment, if passed.

”It would prevent a lot of same-sex couples from coming here,” he said.

Although some gay couples sought surrogate mothers in the United States and Thailand, ”India really is the closest country to Australia that offers affordable surrogacy,” he said.

The draft bill could make it difficult for all Australian couples to use Indian surrogates.

One stumbling block would be a requirement that foreign countries guarantee they will accept the surrogate child as a citizen – before a surrogacy could begin.

Dr Sharma said foreign couples would have to obtain a document from their embassy or foreign ministry pledging the surrogate child citizenship of their country. “Only then will they be entitled to sign an agreement with a surrogate or an ART clinic,” he said.

Parents using a surrogate would also be obliged to accept the baby even if it was born with abnormalities.

”Under the Australian Citizenship Act, there are no guarantees,” a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said on Friday. ”What you can infer from this is that while it’s not illegal, we certainly wouldn’t be encouraging it by giving a rubber stamp to anyone who entered into such an agreement.”

Mr Allen-Drury said surrogacy in the US cost $200,000 or more. In India the arrangements could be made for $40,000 to $50,000. Thailand’s laws were changed last year to stop surrogacies for same-sex couples, although it remains legal for single males.

Mr Allen-Drury said a requirement for the Australian government to guarantee citizenship before a surrogacy could begin was impractical. ”That would just close the door,” he said.

Trevor Elwell and his partner, Peter West, have twin girls, Evelyn and Gaia, from a surrogate mother in Mumbai. Mr Elwell predicted parliamentary inertia meant the Indian laws were months or years off. But he was concerned that interim guidelines could be adopted and, in effect, exclude same-sex couples.

Mr Elwell said the citizenship proposal could pose an insurmountable hurdle.

”If you want to do that process earlier and confirm citizenship, you’re going to have to have a government process upfront,” he said.

The demand for a guarantee of citizenship meant the Australian government would have to grant it on the basis of a contract it did not recognise.

”It is a bit of a tangle, so it might affect heterosexual couples in the long run,” Mr Elwell said.

Since the publicity after they got their twins, Mr Elwell and Mr West say they have helped more than 100 couples – some gay, some straight – arrange a surrogate mother in India.

”The tip of the iceberg may have been us.”

 Source: The Sydney Morning Herald (26 April, 2010)

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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About The Tel Aviv Nights, But Were Afraid To Ask!

Let me tell you a fascinating bed-time story:) The story of my night out with Erez & Evyatar (my guides) exploring the night life in Tel Aviv, last month. This was a unique new tour started by Dan Knassim for individuals or groups wanting to experience the fabled night life first-hand in sizzling Tel Aviv! The Tel Aviv night-life culture is one of the biggest night cultures in the world. Tel-Aviv is one of the only cities that is awake & throbbing with life 24x7x365.
I went to Tel Aviv for my routine teaching assignment as visiting Faculty to the University of Tel Aviv, Sackler School of Medicine at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer. I was interviewed on channel 2 at their Jerusalem studios as part of the Gay Family – Surrogacy story being lapped up by the Israeli media. India was suddenly in the news with Surrogacy being written about in all major newspapers. I was told that a film by Zippi Brand on Surrogacy in India was also beamed on a major TV channel the same month.

A typical night in the weekend (Thursday-Friday-Saturday) can start at 22:00 hours with a cocktail with friends continuing to a party at 01:00 hours and then finish with a crackling after-party that starts at 6:00 am and finishes that night at 22:00 hours. Twenty four hours of non-stop partying is a way of life for youngsters over the weekend!In most of the bars and night-clubs you will find a burly bouncer-type person who is sitting at the entrance usually with a pretty woman. The woman points out discreetly to the bouncer who does not go in. This decision is based entirely on this screening woman who decides first on ethnicity, next on looks & many a times just to maintain the “exclusivity” of the club by refusing youngsters in.There is a law in Israel that prohibits those under 16 from entering these night-clubs & it is this screening-siren that decides who goes in. I saw youngsters break down in front of this security-screening duo at a couple of night-clubs because they were refused permission to get in. My guides told me that this is sometimes considered such a big insult to a youngster who has brought his date to the bar on a week-end & is not allowed in; these incidents lead to peer-pressure psychological disturbances & nervous break-downs.

In Tel Aviv there are various types of parties.I was getting bored in the hotel room & a common friend suggested Erez take me out for a night-life exclusive tour beginning at 23:00 hours & ending at dawn! Lima Lima was our first stop since our night club expert Evyatar heard of a wild Gay party on at Lima Lima. Lets talk about the Gay party scene in Tel Aviv. The Gay parties & the Gay community are very well known in Tel Aviv. The orthodox Jewish state turns a blind eye – to them the Gay community does not exist- It is another world – unseen & unheard to the orthodox Jew! Every single night there is a different gay party in the city with different music and crowd. There are very open Gay parties, very erotic, very open… as if you can feel the sex in the air and hungry searching eyes all around. Seeing is believing! I attended one such party at Lima Lima, which is one of the oldest night-clubs in Tel Aviv. Every Monday, you have a Gay party where singles come to find partners & couples to rock the night away(see pictures!) And then there are more relaxed parties where everyone knows everyone else; at such parties there are more gay couples partying out with their friends; where everyone is busy socializing, gossiping and here the music is a little muted in the background with lots of drinks going around.The focus is on camaderie & chilling out with friends.

There is another set of parties in Tel Aviv which are zoned according to ethnicity. Like the Ethiopian parties – This is like mini-Africa and you find most of the time just Ethiopian-Israeli immigrants rocking the night away. All you get to dance to here is Ethiopian music(sometimes hip hop music too!). And then there are the Eastern parties – not by the Chinese or Singaporeans but the immigrants who have migrated from Morocoo or Iraq – here you will find just “Mizrahit” music & clusters of only-Easterns(see Video!)

And then there are the regular night-clubs with teen-agers & youngsters in their 20’s dancing the night away. What is interesting is that these night-clubs have a gentry from a particular type of social set. You see only expensive cars outside a particular night club & the patrons of this night-club are usually children of very rich parents. Very subtly, there is a clear demarcation of social class in the night-clubbing scene in Tel Aviv. From Lima Lima which had a steamy gay party going on till the wee hours of morning, we went to Amazonia which was obviously a “rich-kid” night club with all the expensive frills.

After spending time in an Ethiopian & an Eastern night-club, we had the sun-peeking over our heads by the time we decided to return home. I had seen night-life in Mumbai, London, New York, Mexico City, Munich, Singapore, Tokyo, Dubai and Cancun… but everything paled in comparison to the sights & sounds of the night-life in Tel Aviv. Lechhaiim!!!!Picture 1

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Channel 2 Interview on Surrogacy, Israel – May 2009

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Yonatan, Omer & Evyatar Gher

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Israeli_gay_couple_gets_a_son/articleshow/3724754.cms

 

 

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Equal access to IVF for lesbian couples and single women

New laws that grant lesbian couples and single women equal access to IVF have been passed by MPs voting in Victoria’s Parliament. The Assisted Reproductive Treatment bill was approved by 47 votes to 34, in a three day debate that lasted in the early hours. It will now be debated in the Upper House before it can become law. 

MP’s were given a free conscience vote on the bill, which included measures to permit the posthumous use of gametes – such as using a dead partner’s sperm – with many opposing the bill on grounds of the welfare of the child. Labor MP Marlene Kairouz, who voted against the bill, told MPs: ‘Bringing a child into the world without ever having the opportunity to meet both its parents shows disregard for its wellbeing, its needs and dignity.’

The reform comes after a four-year review conducted by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in to the current artificial reproductive technology (ART) laws in Victoria contained in the Infertility Treatment Act, which the new bill will repeal. ‘This is about updating our laws, bringing them into the 21st century but ensuring that the interests of children born of these arrangements are absolutely paramount,’ said the Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, before last week’s debate. It will also mean Victorian laws meet federal discrimination legislation by ensuring all women have equal access to fertility treatment. At present, lesbians and single parents have to travel to other states to receive fertility treatment. The bill also give greater parental rights to gay couples and parents of surrogate children. 

Rainbow Families Council spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe expressed her support for the proposed measures. ‘What we’d be really wanting to see is that people understand that the spirit of this bill is that the rights and best interests of children are upheld and we believe that voting in favour of it in the upper house will ensure that our children are not second class citizens,’ she said. 

The Attorney-General dubbed the bill ‘good reform’. He said, ‘When we’re dealing with social reform and particularly, obviously, conscience votes there are always passionate views that are held on both sides of the house.’

Posted by: Goral Gandhi, MSc

                  Laboratory Director

                  Rotunda – The Center For Human Reproduction

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Another Feather In Our Cap

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Fertility laws in UK drop “need for a father” in infertility treatment

Single women and lesbian couples will be able to seek fertility treatment without having to consider a father for their children. In May this year, the House of Commons in UK has rejected a proposed amendment to the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Bill, requiring fertility clinics to consider the ‘need for a father’ prior to IVF treatment. Under the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, women seeking fertility treatment will no longer have to take into account the role of a father figure. Instead, the rules will be replaced with references to “supportive parenting”.

Section 13 of the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act required IVF clinics to consider the ‘welfare’ of any child that may be created, including the ‘need for a father’, prior to IVF treatment. This requirement was debated in the House of Commons and reviewed by the parliamentary Science and Technology Committee in 2006. It was suggested that the requirement discriminates against lesbian couples and single women seeking IVF treatment, but noted that clinicians and fertility counsellors recommended retaining a reference to the parenting needs of the child.

The new Bill will reflect the HFEA guidelines and will be brought into line with the Human Rights Act. Health minister Dawn Primarolo said, ‘this is about ensuring that this law reflects current practices and family setups and current legislation referring to human rights’. Emily Thornberry, the Labour MP for Islington, reiterated, ‘the important point is to give legal rights to lesbian couples and single women.’

The amendment to retain the ‘need for a father’ in the new HFE bill was proposed by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, who argued that removing the ‘need for a father’ would send a message that ‘fathers are less important than mothers’ in parenting. Labour MP Geraldine Smith appealed to ‘common sense’ in the need for a father figure. Mr Duncan Smith and his supporters said that fathers play an important role in parenting, and pointed to evidence that children from single parent families were less likely to do well at school and more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. In practice, they said, there was little evidence that lesbian couples and single mothers were being denied fertility treatment..

The latest psychological research, discussed at a public debate hosted by the Progress Educational Trust at the House of Commons in January 2008, suggests that children benefit when a father is active in parenting, and are adversely affected when a father leaves the family. There is also much evidence that ‘solo’ single mothers by choice and lesbian couples are highly committed to parenthood and able to provide supportive parenting.

The Bill will also allow both partners in a lesbian couple to be designated parents when they conceive with donated sperm. This reflects the situation of a heterosexual couple seeking fertility treatment with donor sperm, where the man is deemed the legal father despite having no biological relation to the child. The legislation represents the greatest extension to the family rights of homosexual couples since gay adoption.

Posted by : Goral Gandhi, MSc,

                   Laboratory Director,

                   Rotunda – Center for Human Reproduction (Pvt) Ltd

 

 

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