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Monday, March 30, 2015

Thai surrogacy: Ambassador defends decision to grant citizenship to babies born by surrogate

Australia's ambassador to Thailand has defended his embassy's decision to continue granting citizenship and passports to babies born via surrogacy.

Thailand passed legislation earlier this year to ban commercial surrogacy, although it still needs royal approval.

Nationals whip George Christensen has criticised the embassy for granting passports when Thailand is trying to ban the practice.

But ambassador Paul Robilliard said Australian law makes clear if a baby is a descendent of an Australian a passport must be granted.

"We have had good cooperation between the embassy and all Thai agencies on this very difficult issue of surrogacy," Mr Robilliard said.

"If a baby is shown to be a descendant of an Australian citizen then by law they become an Australian citizen and then become eligible for an Australian passport."

A Parliamentary committee, headed by Mr Christensen, has recommended an inquiry into domestic and international surrogacy.

Last month, Thailand's interim parliament passed a law banning foreigners from seeking surrogacy services.

The law passed with 160-2 votes in favour of banning commercial surrogacy in the country, which means only a relative can act as a surrogate mother.

Under the new laws, foreigners will be prohibited to use Thai surrogates unless they have been married to a Thai national for at least three years.

Thailand's status as a top destination for fertility tourism came under scrutiny last year after an Australian couple's baby with Down syndrome was left behind while his healthy twin sister was taken home.

Another case involved a Japanese man who fathered at least 15 babies using Thai surrogates in what local media called the "baby factory".


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