What are the Options for Gay Surrogacy Worldwide?
We are LGBT founded, proud same-sex parents, and gay surrogacy advocates worldwide. Our mission is to find secure, legal, and affordable solutions for gay couples looking to fulfill their dreams.
Inside This Article:
- Gay surrogacy country-by-country
- Low-Cost LGBT Surrogacy Options
- How Much to Pay Your Surrogate
- The risks of “unregulated surrogacy”
Surrogacy for gay couples is too often legally restricted — but options do exist in various forms worldwide. Available programs can be categorized into three options: Legal Options, Unregulated Options, and “Back-Channel” Options. Each has it’s own benefits and obstacles.
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); 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 and India.
There are excellent clinics in the US, with success rates around 85% per embryo transfer. Many US clinics will perform unlimited embryo transfers for a fixed price (until you are pregnant). There are also Independent Surrogacy options with that are less expensive.
- To learn more about surrogacy in the United States, visit this article in the Guide
- To learn more about surrogacy in Colombia, visit this article in the Guide
- To learn more about surrogacy in Canada, visit this article in the Guide
- To learn more about surrogacy in the United Kingdom, visit this article in the Guide
Unregulated Surrogacy for Gay Couples
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.
- To learn more about surrogacy in Kenya, visit this article in the Guide
- To learn more about surrogacy in Mexico, visit this article in the Guide
“Back-Channel” 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 may not 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.
- To learn more about surrogacy in Ukraine, visit this article in the Guide
- To learn more about surrogacy in India, visit this article in the Guide
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.
Gay Surrogacy in the United StatesThe 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.)
Many same-sex couples opt for “Independent Surrogacy” (or “Private surrogacy”) programs. Independent Surrogacy is when an Intended Parent manage their surrogacy journey directly with their surrogate, without the aid of an “Agent”. Independent Surrogacy is significantly less expensive than typical Agent Programs because they avoid exorbitant agency fees.
Traditional 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 $90,000 USD to $120,000 USD. Independent surrogacy programs cost about $75,000 USD. A local egg donor in the United States will cost from $10,000 to $20,000 USD, depending on the donor and the agency.
Gay Surrogacy in IndiaIn 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.
Gay Surrogacy in KenyaSurrogacy 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.
Gay Surrogacy in GreeceAltruistic 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.
Gay Surrogacy in MexicoIn 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.
Gay Surrogacy in RussiaRussia 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.
Gay Surrogacy in ColombiaThe 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.
Gay Surrogacy in ThailandIn 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.
Gay Surrogacy in CambodiaWith 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.
Gay Surrogacy in NepalWith 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 in Ukraine & GeorgiaLike 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.
Gay Surrogacy in MalaysiaMalaysia, 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.
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.
- Our Family Coalition for Same-Sex Families
Our Family Coalition advances equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) families with children through support, education, and advocacy.
- 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 AUTHOR: Bill Houghton
Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the ‘Sensible’ Surrogacy Guide, and a dedicated Consultant who has advised thousands of couples on worldwide opportunities for Gestational Surrogacy. He is also an LGBT surrogacy parent himself, and advocates for ethical and secure gestational surrogacy for all couples. Learn more about Bill on his profile page at SensibleSurrogacy.com as well as professional background on LinkedIn.
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