Court Ruling Could Make Taiwan First Place in Asia to Legalize Gay Marriage

In a ruling that paves the way for Taiwan to become the first place in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage, the constitutional court on Wednesday struck down the Civil Code’s definition of marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The legislature now has two years either to amend the Civil Code or to enact laws addressing same-sex couples.

If the legislature fails to pass an amendment or legislation in the next two years, same-sex couples “shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated at the authorities in charge of household registration,” the court wrote in a news release.gay family law

Cindy Su, of the Lobby Alliance for LGBT Human Rights, said she was “excited and proud” of the court’s ruling, but also eager to see legislation passed as soon as possible. “We hope that we don’t have to wait another two years before we can get married,” said Ms. Su, whose marriage to her partner in Canada was not recognized in Taiwan.

The court’s ruling came in response to two petitions to review the current law, one brought by Chi Chia-wei, a longtime gay rights campaigner. Mr. Chi favors amending the Civil Code to define marriage as a union of two spouses, arguing that a separate marriage law for gays and lesbians would be unacceptable.

May 24, 2017 by Chris Horton, New York Times

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As Mexican State Limits Surrogacy, Global System Is Further Strained

After years of longing and a mountain of expense, Michael Theologos became a father in December, when a surrogate mother gave birth to his son in a clinic in this tropical town. Mr. Theologos wept as he cut the umbilical cord.

VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico — Then the trouble began.

The next day, officials arrived at the hospital and took the baby, Alexandros, into custody. They said Mr. Theologos, a New York City resident, had broken a new law that bars surrogate mothers here in Tabasco State from bearing children for foreigners.

Mr. Theologos, 59, did not see Alexandros again for nearly six weeks.international surrogacy

“You receive your dream and then someone comes over and takes away everything,” said Mr. Theologos, an American citizen who paid $55,000 to an agency for the surrogacy. Speaking by telephone from Queens, he added, “It was the end of the world for me.”

Mr. Theologos and his son are among a dozen foreign families who have been tangled up in a legal battle over how to apply new surrogacy restrictions in Tabasco, which for years was the only state in Mexico that allowed foreigners to hire surrogates.

Dozens of other families whose babies are yet unborn will face the same quandary, officials and lawyers said.

The imbroglio highlights the legal complexities of commercial surrogacy and the hazards of outsourcing it to freewheeling frontier markets, experts said.

“It’s an area that’s incredibly hard to regulate,” said Sam Everingham, global director of Families Through Surrogacy, a nonprofit based in Sydney that organizes seminars and shares information on the internet.

The model in which would-be parents from wealthy countries hire surrogates in poorer — and less regulated — nations is “not sustainable,” he said.

Surrogacy has expanded around the globe over the past decade as adoption rules become more stringent. But several markets have boomed and then abruptly closed to foreigners or people who are not in heterosexual marriages, often catching parents in a messy transition from one law to the next.

surrogate lawyers, surrogate lawyer, surrogate attorney, legal surrogate, surrogate legalTabasco, where surrogacy has been legal since 1997, became a hub after India closed its doors, first to gay and then to foreign would-be parents, starting in 2013, and Thailand followed suit.

In Tabasco, the new restrictions closed a lucrative door for hundreds of women in a state where the oil industry has shed thousands of jobs, and the unemployment rate, at over 7 percent, is the highest in Mexico.

“There are no opportunities here,” said Mariana, 34, an unemployed saleswoman who bore twins for an Australian man last year. Like other surrogate mothers interviewed for this article, she did not want her full name used.

Sipping a soursop juice at a noisy cafe in the city center recently, she said that the pregnancy, for which she was paid about $10,000, was her “only chance to get ahead.”

The market here was never as large as India’s and Thailand’s had been. The government estimates that about 100 babies were born to surrogates in Tabasco each year from 2013 to 2016; academics and activists say it could have been as many as 500 a year.

by Victoria Burnett, New York Times – March 23, 2017

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In landmark ruling, Italy recognizes gay couple as dads to surrogate babies

For the first time in Italy, two gay partners have been legally recognized as fathers of two surrogate children.

The children were born to a surrogate mother in the United States using artificial insemination, but both of the men will officially be named as its father – not just the parent who is biologically related.

Judges at Trento’s Court of Appeal made the historic ruling in line with the birth certificate issued in the US, which stated the dual paternity, according to the Article 29 website.international surrogacy

The website, which takes its name from the article in the Italian Constitution regarding family life, published the ruling on Tuesday, though the ruling was dated February 23rd.

In their decision, judges noted that the foreign birth certificate was valid because in Italy parental relationships are not determined solely by biological relationships.

“On the contrary,” they said, “One must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to have and care for the child.” 

Article 29 said the decision had “great significance”, as it is the first time an Italian court has ruled that a child has two fathers.

Surrogacy in Italy

Italian law prevents couples from using a surrogate mother, and in theory, anyone caught entering into a surrogacy arrangement faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to a million euros.

Two years ago, a child was taken from its parents who had paid a surrogate mother in Ukraine 25,000 euros. The couple were charged with fraud and the child put up for adoption.

TheLocal.it, February 28, 2017

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National Organization for Marriage Announces International Anti-LGBT Group

Brian Brown, director of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and president of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF), has announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family (IOF).

IOF is the new name of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which is the parent organization of WCF. The name and mission of the Howard Center have been re-tooled for an international arena, though WCF, which will remain a project of the IOF, according to Brown’s announcement, has always been extremely active internationally. Its world conferences serve as a key nexusfor religious right leaders and activists and the formulation of policies that are detrimental to LGBT people and reproductive health, and they provide a platform for anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories

The IOF, which was ironically announced on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, has been in the works for a while.gay hate

In August of this year, the Howard Center sent out a letter to supporters signed by President Emeritus Allan Carlson, in which he stated that the Center’s board of trustees resolved to “sharpen the focus” of the organization “on international family questions” which reflect the reality “that key family policy battles now occur more frequently at the transnational level in bodies such as the U.N., the Organization of American States, and the European Union.” To that end, the board of directors of the Center resolved to change the organization’s name to IOF.  

The name of the Center’s policy journal is also changing from The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy to The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy, but senior editing staff remains the same.

In keeping with the mission of the Howard Center and WCF to dictate the so-called “natural family” –– that marriage is only for one man and one woman –– as the only correct way to be a family, IOF’s first order of business was to release the “Cape Town Declaration” at a WCF regional conference at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

The declaration purports to affirm marriage as only between a man and a woman, and “the patrimony of all mankind” to secure for children the “birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.” The declaration goes on to assert that a “thriving culture will therefore serve marriage — and all society —by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within.” These “thriving cultures” will also discourage pornography, adultery and divorce, and will resist attempts to “redefine marriage” to include “same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.”

Southern Poverty Law Center – December 19, 20165

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Same-sex parents now account for 1 in 10 adoptions in England

Data published today has revealed that one in 10 adoptions in England is by a same-sex couple.

The data comes from the Department for Education, which published an update on children in care and fostering.

The stats reveal that of the 4,690 children adopted in the year ending March 31, 450 were adopted by same-sex couples.adoption

200 children were adopted by same-sex couples in civil partnerships, 70 children were adopted by married same-sex couples, and a further 180 were adopted by same-sex couples who are unmarried.

The growth, coupled with a decline in overall adoption by opposite-sex parents, means that the total proportion of children adopted by same-sex couples is at 10 percent for the first time.

It represents a drastic rise from 2012, when just 160 children were adopted by same-sex couples, accounting for less than five percent of adoptions in that year.

Gender breakdowns show that adoption has become more popular for both male and female couples, with 250 children adopted by same-sex male parents, and 200 adopted by same-sex female couples.

The data points have been rounded to preserve anonymity.

Tor Docherty of LGBT adoption charity  New Family Social, said: “Although the total number of adoptions fell in England in 2016, it’s heartening to see that agencies continue to consider and successfully place children for adoption with same-sex couples.

by Nick Duffy, December 8, 2016

PinkNews.com.uk

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Surrogacy laws in UK for single parents to change after court ruling

Surrogacy laws which prevent single people from claiming parental rights are set to change following a ruling by the Family Division of the High Court.

 

The court ruled earlier this month that a single man who fathered a child via a surrogate mother had his right to raise the child discriminated against.

The man claimed the current law meant an application for a “parental order” could only be made by two people.

The government said it was now considering updating the legislation.international second parent adoption, gay parent adoption, Italy, lgbt Italy, glut Italy, gay families, international gay rights

American mother

The child was born in August 2014 in Minnesota in the US, to an American surrogate mother using the father’s sperm and a third party donor’s egg.

The father then returned to the UK, bringing the child – ,known in court as Z – with him. But legally he did not have parental responsibility for the child – as under British law the surrogate mother is regarded as his mother, whatever the wishes of either party.

The current laws – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 – allow married couples, civil partners and couples in an “enduring family relationship” to apply for parental orders after a surrogacy arrangement.

This transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents. But the legislation does not currently allow parental orders to be awarded to single people.

In this case, the only option available to the would-be father was to apply to adopt the child.

Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, has agreed with the father, who said the legislation was incompatible with human rights laws.

The president of the Family Division of the High Court made a “declaration of incompatibility” in a ruling, after considering the case at a hearing in London.

He also said the child had been made a ward of court at an earlier stage of litigation and been placed in his father’s care.

Adoption ‘solution’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s legal team had accepted that provisions of the Act were incompatible with human rights covering respect for family life and discrimination.

Barrister Samantha Broadfoot, representing Mr Hunt, told the judge: “It is accepted that there is a difference in treatment between a single person entering into a lawful surrogacy arrangement and a couple entering the same arrangement.”

She did add that adoption was an “available solution”.

BBC.com/news/UK

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Taiwan Set to Legalize Same-Sex Marriages, a First in Asia

Su Shan and her partner are raising 5-month-old twins together, but only one of the women is their legal parent. That could soon change as Taiwan appears set to become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

“Now, if something happens to the child, the other partner is nothing but a stranger,” said Su, a 35-year-old software engineer in Taipei in Taiwan. By contrast, either partner in a legally recognized marriage could make legal, medical and educational decisions, she says.

Taiwanese lawmakers are currently working on three bills in support of marriage equality, one of which is already listed for review and could be passed within months. Same-sex marriage also has the prominent support of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s first female head of state.marriage equality

About 80 percent of Taiwanese between ages 20 and 29 support same-sex marriage, said Tseng Yen-jung, spokeswoman for the group Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy , citing local university studies. Taiwan’s United Daily News found in a survey taken four years ago that 55 percent of the public supported same-sex marriage, with 37 percent opposed.

That’s seen as a reflection of Taiwan’s ready acceptance of multi-party democracy and other inclusive attitudes, as well as the fact that Taiwan’s 23 million people largely follow Buddhismand traditional Chinese religions that take no strong positions on sexual orientation or gay marriage.

Gay and lesbian relationships began to find wide acceptance in the 1990s, aided by the already well-established feminist movement, said Jens Damm, associate Professor in the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies at Chang Jung University in Taiwan.

“The elite became in favor of a kind of gender equality,” Damm said.

Still, same-sex marriage still had to overcome traditional perceptions of gender roles and the strong pressure on children to marry and have kids. The self-ruled island also lacks many openly gay and lesbian celebrities to lead the way; the writer and television talk show host Kevin Tsai is among the few exceptions.

By RALPH JENNINGS, ASSOCIATED PRESS 

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Nov 10, 2016

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Cambodian Ministry of Health Bans Surrogate Pregnancy

The health minister has banned surrogate pregnancy arrangements in the country, putting the brakes on what appeared to be a quickly expanding—if controversial—industry. The move comes just days after the justice minister called for the practice to be outlawed.

Addressing representatives of Cambodia’s medical community during a meeting at the Health Ministry on Monday, Health Minister Mam Bunheng announced a ban on surrogacy, according to staff from a Phnom Penh fertility clinic who were present.

The ban is among other measures outlined in a new prakas on the management of blood, ovum, marrow and human cells that Mr. Bunheng approved last week.international surrogacy

“Surrogacy, one of a set of services to have a baby by assisted reproductive technology, is completely banned,” says the proclamation, dated October 24.

It also bans commercial sperm donation and requires clinics and specialist doctors providing in vitro fertilization services to receive permission from the ministry.

Experts estimate up to 50 surrogacy providers and brokers are operating in Cambodia, many of which moved their businesses here in response to other countries in Asia—including India, Nepal and Thailand—either tightening regulations around the practice or banning it outright.

It remained unclear if surrogacy providers would be granted a grace period to make alternate arrangements, what measures would be taken to enforce compliance, and the implications for women who are currently pregnant—and would-be parents on the other side of the transaction.

Spokesmen for the Health Ministry and Justice Ministry could not be reached on Wednesday.

In August, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs met with members of government and health organizations to discuss its response to reports that surrogacy agents were flocking to the country. Late last month, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana called for a ban on surrogacy, describing it as a form of human “trading.”

by  

New standards will tighten rules governing sperm and egg banks in Canada

Rigorous screening requirements would apply to those who donate sperm and eggs within Canada as well as abroad, when intended for export to Canada.

 

Sperm and egg banks will be required to review donors’ medical records and conduct more genetic testing under proposed new Canadian standards for assisted reproduction, which will be unveiled within two weeks, the Star has learned.

Developed by the Canadian Standards Association at the request of Health Canada, the new draft standards are intended to bring the country’s woefully outdated regulatory framework around assisted reproduction into the 21st century, says Dr. Arthur Leader, chair of a CSA subcommittee on assisted reproduction.Human Sperm Cell

Rigorous screening requirements would apply to those who donate sperm and eggs within Canada as well as abroad, when intended for export to Canada. Most donated sperm and eggs used in Canada comes from abroad.

Had these improvements already been in place, it’s unlikely the sperm of a U.S. man who turned out to have been diagnosed with a number of serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, would have made its way across the border, Leader says.

“If there had been a validated medical record, they would have caught this case,” he said.

Chris Aggeles had been advertised by Georgia-based sperm bank Xytex Corp. as exceptionally healthy, based on a medical history questionnaire he had filled out. His sperm was subsequently used in the creation of at least 36 children in Canada, the United States and Britain.

But the truth about his health was revealed only after Xytex mistakenly released his name to some mothers in an email. Until then, he had been anonymous.

Angie Collins, a Port Hope, Ont., woman who is mother to a nine-year-old boy created from Aggeles’ sperm, is thrilled about the proposed changes, particularly the requirement for sperm banks to check donors’ medical questionnaire against their health records.

Collins is one of a number of mothers who is suing Xytex.

“Until now, the honour system has been the relied-upon method and it is clearly ineffective. This would help to prevent situations like ours from arising. Parents would not have to spend years wondering if their child will or will not inherit the donor’s known debilitating mental health conditions,” she said.

The CSA’s new draft standards are intended to underpin improvements to the regulatory framework of assisted human reproduction legislation. They are being released for public commentary.

“Suggestions are most welcome because we want the best standards in the world. The hope is that Health Canada will reference these standards in their entirely in their regulations,” Leader said.

The news of the pending release of the draft standards comes a week after Health Canada announced plans to strengthen and clarify the regulations in the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

Canada’s current semen regulations are focused primarily around screening donor sperm for sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C and gonorrhea.

There exist no regulations for donor eggs or donor embryos.

TheStar.com by Theresa Boyle – 10/7/2016

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A Complex Case Tests New York State’s Expanded Definition of Parenthood

The two women avoided each other’s gaze in the compact courtroom last week, separated by their lawyers, file boxes and three-inch binders filled with old emails and documents.

Somewhere in all the paper was the answer to a question that is being tested as never before in New York State: Were both women the parents of the energetic 6-year-old boy they loved? Or just one of them?

Deciding who is a parent in New York used to be a relatively simple matter. A parent was either biologically related to the child or had legally adopted the child. But in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the first custody case is underway to test a newly expanded definition of parentage, as handed down by the state’s highest court in August.

The new definition is aimed at accounting for the complexity of nontraditional families, including same-sex couples. Now, to determine if someone is a parent, judges can consider whether a couple intended to have and raise a child together, among other factors. So in the courtroom in Manhattan, Circe Hamilton, 44, and her former partner Kelly Gunn, 52, are battling over whether Ms. Gunn should be recognized as a parent to the boy, Abush, whom Ms. Hamilton adopted from Ethiopia in 2011.Family law

In a city filled with complicated relationships, this one stands out. In the original adoption paperwork, completed in early 2009, the British-born Ms. Hamilton appears as a single woman with a boyfriend, and Ms. Gunn is described as a roommate. But that was because Ethiopia does not allow gay couples to adopt, both women acknowledge. In reality, the two women, who began dating in 2004, had planned to raise the child together, and their application reflected some joint assets. Ms. Gunn said her intent was to eventually co-adopt the child in a second-parent adoption proceeding.

They broke up in December 2009, and Ms. Hamilton decided to move forward with the adoption alone, she testified. Despite the breakup, the women remained close. When Ms. Hamilton went to Ethiopia to get Abush, Ms. Gunn met her and the boy in London to fly together to Manhattan. When Ms. Hamilton, a freelance photographer, returned to her tiny apartment in the West Village, she said she was overwhelmed by the challenges of parenting. Ms. Gunn, who ran a successful design company, stepped in, babysitting regularly and attending Abush’s doctors’ appointments, and briefly employing Ms. Hamilton at her firm, according to court testimony.

The women continued to occasionally stay together in a house they had once jointly owned on Fire Island. Abush had a crib there, and to Ms. Hamilton, these gestures represented the generosity of a trusted friend, she said recently. “She was someone I had loved, whom I respected,” she said of Ms. Gunn. “I had no reason not to trust a friend offering help.”

But to Ms. Gunn, the relationship with Abush was much more. She now describes her situation as analogous to that of a couple who had broken up during a biological pregnancy. It was as if the adoption agreement was a conception, conferring upon the child both her and Ms. Hamilton’s DNA. “He wouldn’t have come into our lives without me,” Ms. Gunn said. “He is a product of our mutual intention, our mutual efforts.”

The minutia of their daily lives in recent years — who took Abush to his play dates, his school appointments, his sports classes — are now pieces of a puzzle in a trial that has already had 15 days of testimony, with at least a week to go. The judge must decide whether Ms. Gunn’s involvement in Abush’s life amounts to her being a parent, and if it gives her standing to sue in a second hearing for custody and visitation.

Justice Frank P. Nervo, who is presiding over the case, has come up with questions to guide the lawyers. How formalized was the relationship between Ms. Gunn and Abush? What did he think Ms. Gunn’s role was? Did Ms. Gunn assume the duties of a parent? What would be the impact on Abush if their relationship ended?

Almost all states now legally recognize de facto parenthood to account for the realities of modern families. In expanding its parenthood definition, the New York State Court of Appeals said in its Aug. 30 ruling that it was seeking a definition that provided “equality for same-sex parents and provides the opportunity for their children to have the love and support of two committed parents.”

By Sharon Ottoman, New York Times, October 18, 2016

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