Surrogacy for Gay Couples Worldwide

by William (Bill) Houghton

Gay surrogacy is too often illegal or dangerous overseas, but there are safe and affordable options both within the U.S. and abroad. Don’t be persuaded to pursue unregulated or illicit surrogacy programs. Do the research, check out the options, and make a smart choice for your family.

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Also in the Guide

 

Gay Surrogacy Options Worldwide: Understanding Risk

An internet search for Gay Surrogacy will display programs from California to Kenya. But don’t be fooled. Just because options are possible, doesn’t mean they are safe. The options for gay surrogacy can be categorized into three options: Legal Options, Unregulated Options, and Illicit Options. Gay couples should understand the benefits and risks of each.

Learn more about surrogacy options worldwide in the Surrogacy Guide.

 

Legal Surrogacy for Gay Couples

There are very few countries that have supportive surrogacy laws which also include gay couples. These countries include the United States (which supports commercial surrogacy for gay couples); Canada (which restricts surrogacy only to non-profit altruistic programs); Colombia, some states in Australia; and a few European countries including the UK, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Most countries that have legislated surrogacy have also imposed restrictions that exclude gay surrogacy specifically. For example, surrogacy for gay couples is prohibited in the Ukraine, Russia and Georgia.

There are excellent clinics in the US, with success rates around 80% per embryo transfer. Some US clinics will perform multiple embryo transfers or unlimited procedures for a fixed price (until you are pregnant). There are also Independent Surrogacy options with that are less expensive.
 

Unregulated Gay Surrogacy

Many countries do not have any legislation concerning surrogacy, and so the procedure is legal but “unregulated”. Examples include Kenya, Mexico, Cyprus, Guatemala, and others.   In these countries surrogacy is possible for all couples because there are no laws regarding surrogacy — either restricting it or offering protections.

Unregulated jurisdictions are generally in developing economies where the low cost of living make the programs cheaper, but success rates are significantly lower than in the US.  The risk in unregulated countries is that the surrogate is the legal mother until a court process (like adoption) can replace her name on the birth certificate with the non-genetic parent’s name.
 

Illicit Surrogacy for Gay Couples

Finally there are options in several countries that navigate quite close to the legal line. In some countries it may be possible to represent yourself (on paper) in a relationship with the surrogate and intending to raise the baby together.  (If the intent is that the surrogate is to raise the baby herself, then it doesn’t legally constitute “surrogacy”.)

These options are typically in countries where the local law explicitly prohibits or restricts surrogacy for gay couples. Therefore such options run contrary to the spirit of the local laws, but perhaps not the exact letter of the law. As you can imagine, these types of programs have some unique risks. Agencies providing these services will not advertise them, but may offer these or related solutions upon request.
 

When considering the opportunities for gay couples to conceive their families through surrogacy, it’s always advisable to pursue surrogacy in a country with a supportive legal framework. For couples with few financial resources, it’s often tempting to consider options that appear safe while circumventing local restrictions. Such programs have risks (as was seen in Southeast Asia), and couples who pursue these options should carefully weigh the possible complications against the opportunities.
 


Gay Surrogacy Options Worldwide:

While North America and Europe have become increasingly progressive, not all cultures are tolerant of same-sex relationships. When considering surrogacy services, it is important to know where you will be welcome, and where you may find resistance or hostility.

Below is a rating of surrogacy destinations that have purported surrogacy for gay couples. Some are safe and reputable, others lack protections and inherent risks, and several once-popular destinations have banned surrogacy for all foreign couples.
 

Gay Surrogacy-VictoryLGBT Surrogacy in the United States

The United States is the only global destination that supports commercial surrogacy for same-sex couples. Laws in “surrogacy friendly” states support surrogacy contracts and automatically name the signers as the legal parents. (Note that some other US states explicitly ban surrogacy contracts.)

U.S. couples may opt for “Independent Surrogacy” (or “Private surrogacy”) programs as a way to lower costs. Independent Surrogacy is when Intended Parents manage their surrogacy journey directly with their surrogate, without the aid of an “Agent”.

Typical surrogacy procedures in the United States still cost about $140,000 USD, plus the cost of any emergency medical care for the surrogate or child. For this reason the US has been a popular surrogacy option only for wealthy same-sex couples. Lower cost agency options range from $100,000 USD to $120,000 USD. Independent surrogacy programs cost about $80,000 USD. Overseas parents must also purchase private health insurance for their newborn baby, which can be quite expensive.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Colombia

The constitution of Colombia prohibits any discrimination against LGBT citizens — so same-sex couples may pursue surrogacy in Colombia as long as at least one parent is genetically related to the baby.

Colombia has very progressive laws regarding LGBT rights. The Constitutional Court ruled legalized same-sex marriage in 2016, noting that same-sex couples have the same right to procreate as heterosexual couples or singles. The further equality of LGBT couples was recognized in a 2015 ruling that legalized gay adoption.

Like most of Latin America, there is no specific law regulating surrogacy. But the Colombian Constitutional Court acknowledged that surrogacy is constitutional and even issued guidelines on it’s correct implementation. That ruling has now become the de facto law in Colombia.
 

Surrogacy in Canada for gay couples

Canada is considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world, with non-discrimination laws, same-sex marriage and adoption. Canada was the fourth country worldwide to allow same-sex marriage nationwide, and the first to allow foreign LGBT couples to marry.

Canada’s surrogacy laws allow surrogacy in each territory, except in the province of Quebec. All surrogacy is restricted to altruistic programs only, which prohibits any commercial activity. Altruistic laws mean surrogate mothers cannot be paid more than out-of-pocket expenses. Agencies also are not legally permitted to professionally match surrogates with future parents for payment, although it’s common for “consultants” to perform this services in support of surrogacy clinics.

The drawbacks to surrogacy in Canada is the time required to find a qualified surrogate. Due to altruistic surrogacy restrictions, there are far fewer surrogate mothers than there are intended parents waiting to be matched. The cost of surrogacy in Canada is also relatively expensive, with a standard program costing around $85,000. National health care will cover medical expenses of the surrogate mother, but not of the baby born to foreign Intended Parents. Overseas parents must pay out-of-pocket or purchase private health insurance for their newborn baby.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Greece

Altruistic surrogacy has been permitted for married Greek citizens since 2002. However, the law was extended in 2014 to permit surrogacy for single women with diagnosed infertility conditions. This opens the possibility for Lesbians to pursue surrogacy in Greece. The birth certificate will be named with the Intended Mother as the legal parent, but women must apply for the baby’s citizenship and passport through your their local consulate (which means surrogacy is only possible if the mother donates her own eggs).

Gay men are still not permitted to pursue surrogacy in Greece, but this could change if Gay marriage is legalized in the country. As of 2018, Greece recognizes same-sex “cohabitation agreements”, but repeated attempts to introduce Gay Marriage have been squashed by both the legislature and the supreme court. The court fight there still continues.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Cyprus

Cyprus is traditionally conservative but has adopted some non-discrimination laws supporting LGBT persons. Gay marriage and gay adoption are not possible in Cyprus, although civil unions have been available since 2015.

In Cyprus there is no regulation on surrogacy, so clinics and surrogacy agencies offer programs for all couples without legal protections. The surrogacy contract between the surrogate mother and intended parents is not legally enforceable under the law, and the surrogate retains the option of requesting parental rights over the baby.

Within 3 months following the delivery, the surrogate can renounce her parental rights and allow the intended parents to adopt the baby. The intened parents must then complete an adoption process in order to claim parental rights.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Kenya

Surrogacy in Kenya is still unregulated, but widely tolerated as a fertility treatment. The Kenyan constitution guarantees the right to form and be part of a family — which is one reason why Kenya has become a popular inexpensive alternative for gay surrogacy. However the culture of Kenya is one of the most anti-LGBT worldwide, and same-sex relationships are outlawed and punishable by imprisonment. For this reasons same-sex couples should think carefully before choosing Kenya as a destination for surrogacy.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Ukraine & Georgia

Like Russia, Ukraine’s culture remains intolerant to same-sex or single parents. While gestational surrogacy contracts are legal, the country will only allow surrogacy for heterosexual married couples. Gay surrogacy is absolutely prohibited in the Ukraine.

Republic of Georgia allows surrogacy contracts, but only for married heterosexual couples. Since 1997 gay surrogacy programs are officially illegal. Same-sex couples that pursue surrogacy in Georgia will likely find themselves quickly shuttled to a second-tier clinic in neighboring Armenia.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Russia

Russia permits commercial surrogacy for heterosexual couples, but Russian laws do not require the couple to be married. This opens the door to a gay man to pursue surrogacy in Russia if he is accompanied by a female friend who is willing to be the baby’s legal mother. The couple need to travel to Russia together to start the process, and then again to attend the delivery. One risk is that (under Russian law) the female must be able to show that she cannot carry a pregnancy on her own – and to satisfy this bureaucratic requirement some clinics will ignore the requirement or provide documentation of questionable validity.

We have all witnessed the alarming movement of Russian society toward intolerance of same-sex relationships. While many surrogacy clinics will claim that there are no legal restrictions on gay surrogacy procedures, the country’s increasingly anti-LGBT stance causes problems for same-sex couples. More recently, conservative elements in the Russian government have made moves to ban surrogacy altogether in that country.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Malaysia

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation where Islam is the official religion, currently has a fatwa (an Islamic religious ruling) banning surrogacy. Although there are no civil laws addressing the use of surrogates, the possible influence of religious elements in the secular government opens concerns of an outright ban on surrogacy, or even criminal sanctions against surrogates and parents. Homosexuality is also considered a criminal act under strict Islamic law — making surrogacy for same-sex parents an obvious target.

The fatwa was issued in 2008 by The National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs, although it has not received much attention until recently when the rising popularity of surrogacy and the increasing number of couples who see surrogacy as a way for them to have children have been raising the issue and beginning to challenge the current law.
Regardless of the ultimate destination you may choose, we are committed to finding solutions for same sex & single parents looking to fulfill their dreams. Contact us to learn more about gay surrogacy options for your new family.
 

Former Surrogacy Destinations for Gay Couples

You may have heard of some of these once-popular destinations that offered surrogacy for gay couples. In recent years surrogacy has been closed in each of these countries, not just for LGBT families but for all foreign nationals. Many of these destinations have clinics or agencies that are still willing to accept international cases, including gay surrogacy. But they are definitely illegal and to be avoided.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Mexico

In January 2016, the State of Tobasco in Mexico became the most recent Mexican state to prohibit surrogacy procedures for foreign and same-sex couples. The move ended the possibility of regulated surrogacy in Mexico for all but Mexican citizens with diagnosed fertility problems.

Despite the move by the State of Tobasco, there continues to be no federal legislation regarding surrogacy in Mexico. Therefore there are some agencies offering unregulated surrogacy, drafting private surrogacy contracts with Mexican women. Other programs in Mexico are mitigating the lack or regulation by obtaining a court order upholding the surrogacy contract before any pregnancy occurs. (The court order is an innovative solution, but it also adds significantly to the cost and time required for the surrogacy journey.)

Many Mexico IVF clinics expected a boom in surrogacy cases and so invested heavily in new laboratories and care facilities. Several of these clinics are now operating in partnership with surrogacy services in the United States to create “cross-border” surrogacy programs. In these programs the clinical procedures are performed in Mexico, while the delivery happens in the U.S. The result is that cross-border US/Mexico programs can be somewhat cheaper than traditional US surrogacy programs, but there are some notable risks.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in India

In recent years India has become increasingly conservative. The country issued guidelines that make it impossible for same-sex couples to perform surrogacy in India. These directives are being contested by some local advocates of surrogacy and surrogacy clinics, but it is likely that the new directives will be in effect for many years.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Thailand

In recent years Thailand had taken center stage as the destination for gestational surrogacy worldwide. Unfortunately, a few popularized scandals involving surrogacy in Thailand have resulted in new oversights, restrictions, and a complete government ban on surrogacy for any foreign nationals.

New legislation impacts not just gay surrogacy procedures, but surrogacy for all couples. The law now enforces a total ban on commercial surrogacy, including any business that support commercial surrogacy. Altruistic surrogacy is legal, but is strongly restricted only to couples where there is a direct blood relationship between the commissioning parents and the surrogate mother. This effectively eliminates the possibility of legal surrogacy for all foreign couples.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Cambodia

With restrictions on foreign couples traveling to Mexico and Thailand, many couples thought that surrogacy in Cambodia would become the next international surrogacy hub. However in 2017 the country moved to close the surrogacy business by banning surrogacy as a for of human trafficking, and imposing stiff penalties on service providers in that country.

Though the surrogacy practice was outlawed in a snap edict in October 2016, Cambodia’s official law on surrogacy has only just been drafted as of early 2018. The law is expected to ban the commercial industry but permit altruistic surrogacy for Cambodian citizens.
 

LGBT Surrogacy in Nepal

With restrictions on foreign couples traveling to India, many successful Indian clinics announced branch clinics to provide services for surrogacy in Nepal. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of that country placed a stay on surrogacy services pending legislation by the government to define and regulate the practice. The government has decided not to challenge the stay, and so surrogacy remains prohibited for all couples.
 


Gay Surrogacy Resources

  • Family Equality Council Support Resources by Region
    The Family Equality Council helps connect families with parents who are LGBT and the local groups that support them. Many parent groups are locally-based, striving to create safe and inclusive environments for their area LGBT parents and families.
  • Male Couples as Fathers through Gay Surrogacy
    Study explores how gay fathers who become parents through surrogacy experience the transition to parenthood. Structured interviews were conducted with one of the partners in 40 couples that had conceived children via surrogacy.
  • Medical and Psychosocial Considerations of Gay Surrogacy
    A clinical guide by Yale University School of Medicine to counseling male couples who are considering gay surrogacy. The investigation explores the medical and emotional demands of the surrogacy process and on being gay parents in general.
  • Gay Parenting Demographics
    Research brief by the Williams Institute analyzes multiple data sources to provide a demographic portrait of LGBT parenting in the United States.
  • APA Research of Gay Parents
    The American Psychological Association’s report finding that existing research comparing lesbian and gay families to heterosexual families show that common stereotypes are not true.
  • Well-Being of Children of Gay Parents
    American Academy of Pediatrics reviews more than 30 years of research, concluding that children raised by gay and lesbian parents have resilience with regard to social, psychological, and sexual health despite economic and legal disparities and social stigma.

 

About the authors

  • William (Bill) Houghton
  • Author: William (Bill) Houghton

    Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the Sensible Surrogacy Guide, 2x surrogacy dad, and a dedicated advocate for secure, legal and ethical Gestational Surrogacy. Read Bill's Biography

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