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Thursday, February 12, 2015


Changes in Indian government attitudes to foreigners undertaking surrogacy in recent years has meant that surrogacy is no longer available to Queenslanders there.

In 2012, India said for the first time that only heterosexual married couples could access surrogacy there. The couples also had to get a letter from the Australian government to say that undertaking surrogacy in Australia was legal, and that they could bring the babies home.

Some Queensland couples took advantage of those letters, until late 2014. The Indian government then said that it would not accept any surrogacies involving Australians, due to stories concerning an Aussie couple 6 years ago, who had twins in India, and decided to only take one, because they did not like the gender of the other.

The Indian government is now looking at allowing Aussie married couples having surrogacy there- if they are from anywhere other than Queensland, NSW or the ACT. The Indian government now requires any Queenslanders to have two letters: one from the Australian government, saying that they can bring the babies home, and one from the Queensland government saying that it is legal to do commercial surrogacy in Queensland.

The requirement for the latter is Kafkaesque- because to get the Queensland government to write the letter is contrary to Queensland law- so it will never, ever be produced.

Hundreds of Queenslanders have undertaken surrogacy in India, even though it is illegal in Queensland to engage in commercial surrogacy overseas, punishable by up to 3 years in jail. No one has been prosecuted for breaching the laws, leading to calls by Australia’s two family law chiefs to either start prosecuting people for the breaches, or get rid of the laws. The judges have also called for a national inquiry into the feasibility of compensated surrogacy in Australia, a call that the Abbott government has resisted.

Stephen Page is one of Australia’s foremost legal experts on surrogacy and represents Harrrington Family Lawyers.


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