Thai junta’s surrogacy bill to ban LGBT and singles from having their own children

Takato Mitsunaga
With no people’s representatives in parliament, the junta has attempted to pass several quick bills without people’s participation. Among them are three controversial gender-related bills, opposed by women and LGBT rights groups. Following bills on Civil Partnerships and Gender Equality (see Prachatai’s reports on these), the junta is aiming to pass another bill.

But this again could violate the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and even opposite-sex couple who do not have their marriage registered, by banning them from having children by surrogacy technology. The bill is the Protection of Children Born from Medically Assisted Reproduction Technology Bill.

If the bill is passed, it will outlaw commercial surrogacy in Thailand and also outlaw surrogacy involving same-sex couples and unregistered opposite-sex couples. The bill also bans the advertisement of surrogacy services and prohibits middlemen from taking fees for providing surrogate mothers.

The bill is seen as an attempt to regulate surrogacy after the notorious Gammy Case. An Australian same-sex couple paid for surrogacy in Thailand but later abandoned one of two babies born, after he was found to have Down’s syndrome. The surrogate mother has been left with the burden of raising the baby.

According to a BBC report, commercial surrogacy is legal in a few countries including some US states, India, Russia and Ukraine. However, countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria do not allow any form of surrogacy.

Thailand has been one of the famous destinations for foreigners seeking surrogacy services because the country has no regulations governing commercial surrogacy. However, because of this, the authorities cannot protect mothers and children, such as Gammy and his surrogate mother, from being victimized in commercial surrogacy cases.

What Thailand currently has is Article 1546 of the Civil and Commercial Code which stipulates that a woman who gives birth to a child is the legitimate mother. Therefore, according to a report from iLaw, the intended parents of children born from assisted reproduction technology cannot be the legal parents. In fact, the woman who carries the child to term must be the child’s legal mother.

The new bill, proposed by the military junta, protects surrogate mothers and their babies from this. Article 27 of the bill states that the intended parents of a child born from assisted reproduction technology, including surrogacy and in vitro fertilization (IVF), can also be the child’s legal parents. Article 23 also prohibits the use of assisted reproduction technology for commercial reasons.

The bill seems to recognize a need for surrogacy and IVF only for heterosexual couples. Articles 19 and 21 (1) state that those intended to be the parents of a child born by this technology must be in a legal relationship as “lawful husband and wife”. The bill rules out the right of singles and LGBT couples to have children by this technology, since it applies only to heterosexual couples with legally registered marriages.

Moreover, Article 21 (3) stipulates that a woman who wishes to be a surrogate mother must have already given birth, and if she has a husband, her husband must give prior consent.

According to Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice (FOR SOGI), a LGBT organization in Thailand, this clause excludes lesbian couples who wish to have a child by sperm donation.

Sukrittaya Jukping of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thammasat University, thinks that many LGBT couples should enjoy the same right to have children as heterosexual couples, because she does not believe that a family must necessarily comprise one male father and one female mother. However she thinks that Thai society is still not ready to accept new types of family because of the conventional idea that children raised by same-sex couples will be negatively affected.

“For example, some people still say that the children of gay couples will be sexually abused [by the couple]. However, this has been proved untrue by foreign research,” said Sukrittaya.

Because of this misconception, Sukrittaya explained, Thai society is still not able to accept same-sex couples having children. “This is an absolute violation of human rights,” she said.

She also conducted her own research on LGBT parenting in Thailand in 2012. In her research, she found that the legalization or regulation of LGBT people having children will have more impact on Thai society than same-sex marriage itself, because the process will affect the conventional family structure of Thai society.

Same-sex couples who have children but do not have any problems, normally assign to each of them the roles of mother and father, so that the “conventional family structure” is not destroyed. These families normally do not have two mothers or two fathers in Thailand.

Prachatai conducted an exclusive interview with a lesbian-tomboy couple who actually experienced this “medical technology” to have their own baby. This will be considered illegal if the bill is passed.

by taweporn
Source – Prachatai