Taiwan Surrogacy – After gay marriage law passes, Taiwan emerges as new market for LGBT+ surrogacy

Taiwan Surrogacy – After gay marriage law passes, Taiwan emerges as new market for LGBT+ surrogacy

On Geoffrey Li’s 40th birthday last year, he put aside his dream of an early retirement on an idyllic island and instead decided to raise a child in Taiwan with the assistance of surrogacy in Southeast Asia.Taiwan surrogacy

Li and his husband — whose twin boys are now three months old — are among an increasing number of gay couples in Taiwan becoming parents through surrogacy even though the procedure is illegal on the self-ruled island deemed a wayward province by China.

 

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage in May and more than 2,000 same sex couples have since wed, prompting a rush of commercial surrogacy agencies to head to Taiwan to help more LGBT+ couples seeking to start families.

“Having a child in the world to care for, who will return our love unconditionally, is an amazing experience we did not expect to have,” Li said.

Globally, the popularity of surrogacy — where a surrogate mother is either implanted with a sperm and egg or becomes pregnant using her own egg — is soaring, particularly among LGBT+ couples who want to become parents.

Global fertility services were estimated in an initial valuation to be worth about $21 billion in 2018 with the industry forecast to grow to $41 billion by 2026, according to India-based market research firm Data Bridge.

Surrogacy laws around the world vary.

For example, Taiwan, France and Germany prohibit all forms of surrogacy, while Britain, Canada and New Zealand allow some forms of altruistic surrogacy but it is illegal to pay a woman for her services.

Taiwan’s Assisted Reproduction Act forbids any form of surrogacy and any attempts to amend laws, as recently as 2017, have failed due to opposition from women and children’s rights groups.

Conservative groups, such as the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, have actively campaigned against LGBT+ parenting and marriage equality.

But although two-thirds of Taiwanese voters — about 7 million people — opposed changing the country’s civil code to recognize same-sex marriage in a 2018 referendum, parliament in May passed a law legalizing gay marriage.

New frontier

Under current laws, same-sex couples can only adopt children who is biologically related to at least one of them, with activists marking this as one of the next frontiers in the fight for LGBT+ equality on the island of 23 million people.

The Taiwan LGBT Family Rights Advocacy (TLFRA) group said they are in contact with at least 300 “rainbow families” and expect the number of same-sex parents to rise as the new gay marriage law spurred visibility and acceptance.

“Part of the (LGBT+) community is celebrating, while part of the community has a lot of fighting to do,” said Chu Chiajong, administrative secretary of the TLFRA.

This has been encouraged by the arrival of commercial surrogacy agencies, mainly from the United States, in Taiwan where hundreds of gay couples are willing to pay up to $140,000 to start a family — almost 10 times the average annual salary.

There is no legislation concerning surrogacy at the federal level in the United States and some states allow commercial surrogacy arrangements.

Men Having Babies, a New York-based non-profit that helps gay men become fathers through surrogacy, hosted its first conference for prospective Asian gay parents in Taipei in March.

About 320 people attended, forcing the organizers to request a space twice the size of the room originally booked.

“People were revelling in it. They were proud of the fact this was happening,” said group founder Ron Poole-Dayan, who was part of one of the first same-sex couples in the United States to father children through gestational surrogacy.

American Fertility Services, San Diego Fertility Center and International Surrogacy Center were among the sponsors of the event, which included a panel on budgeting, testimonies from parents and surrogates and on-site consultations with clinics.

Croatian court allows gay couple to become foster parents

A Croatian gay couple are set to become foster parents after a landmark ruling by a Zagreb court, local media reported. The couple filed a lawsuit after authorities abruptly rejected their bid to foster children.

A Croatian court in Zagreb paved the way for a same-sex couple to foster children in Croatia, overruling a previous rejection by a child welfare center, according to Croatian media.Croatian court

“We are overjoyed,” one of the men, Ivo Segota, told the Jutarnji list daily.

Segota entered a so-called life partnership with Mladen Kozic in 2015. In 2017, they applied to become foster parents with the Zagreb Social Services Center.

“We were received very warmly and nicely … because Zagreb has a chronic deficit of foster homes, especially those who have the conditions and desire to foster several children, which forces the centers to separate biological siblings,” Segota said.

Despite successfully passing multiple tests, the center unexpectedly broke off communication and eventually rejected their plea. The provided explanation, according to Segota, was that there were no legal conditions for them to become foster parents as a life partnership couple.

The couple appealed the decision to the Family Ministry, but their appeal was rejected. They then sued against the decision.

Under Croatian law, same-sex marriages are not allowed. Life partnerships are equal with heterosexual marriages in all aspects except one — adopting children. The couple’s attorney, Sanja Bezbradica Jelavic, argued that keeping the two from becoming foster parents amounted to discrimination.

DM.com, December 20, 2019

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Federal Court Overrules Board of Immigration Appeals’ Denial of Spousal Petition by Gay Man

U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland, an out lesbian whose nomination to the federal bench by President Donald J. Trump was recently confirmed by the Senate, has ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) erred in denying a petition by Thomas Valdivia, Jr., a U.S. citizen, to award spousal residency rights to his husband, Radu Cheslerean, a Romanian citizen.  Valdivia v. Barr, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191616 (N.D. Ill., Nov. 5, 2019). 

The Board, affirming a district director’s decision to deny the petition, rested its ruling on its conclusion that Cheslerean had previously married a woman in order to obtain U.S. immigration benefits.Trump appeals court

The story begins on December 31, 2005, when Cheslerean attended a New Year’s Eve party and met Nina Garcia, whom he married about a month later.  In August 2006, Garcia filed an I-130 Petition with the Immigration Service, seeking U.S. spousal residency rights for her husband. That November, Garcia and Cheslerean went with their lawyer to an interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Chicago.  After the interview, nothing happened until July 31, 2009, when the Chicago office director issued a Notice of Intent to Deny the I-130 petition.  In September 2009, USCIS denied the petition and Garcia appealed to the BIA, which dismissed the appeal in February, 2011.  Several months later, Garcia and Cheslerean divorced.  The Judgment of Divorce states that they “lived separate and apart as of March 15, 2007, and had no children together.

Several years later, Cheslerean married Valdivia on May 17, 2015.  On September 6, 2016, Valdivia filed an I-130 petition on behalf of Cheslerean, and the men were interviewed at the Chicago Field Office on January 12, 2017.  When the office issued a Notice of Intent to Deny, Cheslerean submitted an affidavit explaining his two marriages.  He stated that in his “relationship with Nina, we did not plan ahead, or have insurance or much other evidence of a commingled life because we had very little money, and any savings we had we would just spend.  We were young and immature and didn’t think about the future or plan ahead.”  Describing his relationship with Valdivia, Cheslerean wrote that he grew up in a conservative Christian orthodox family that treated homosexuality as a sin, and “coming to terms with who I am and living my life authentically as a gay man was a painful journey and it took me a lot longer than it takes other gay men these days.”  But the Chicago Director denied Valdivia’s petition in March 2017, and the BIA dismissed his appeal on December 14, 2017, leading to this lawsuit.

The premise for the BIA’s decision is a section of the immigration statute that says a Form I-130 cannot be approved if the beneficiary (in this case Cheslerean) has ever sought immigration benefits based on a marriage entered into to evade immigration laws — what the Immigration Service refers to as a “sham marriage.”  The agency and the BIA concluded that the marriage with Garcia had been for the purpose of getting immigration benefits and was not a genuine marriage.  Cheslerean tells a different story, and in this lawsuit, Valdivia and Cheslerean contend that neither marriage was a sham marriage, each was genuine in its own way, even though the earlier one did not last very long and came apart when Garcia’s I-130 Petition was finally denied by the BIA.

The BIA specifically emphasized an affidavit that Valdivia had filed in 2009 in support of Garcia’s petition of the I-130 on behalf of Cheslerean.  The BIA argued that “Valdivia offered no explanation in his 2017 affidavit (submitted in support of his own I-130 Petition on behalf of Cheslerean) why he did not include his account of the 2007 events in his 2009 affidavit filed in support of Cheslerean’s marriage to Garcia.”  In responding to this lawsuit, BIA argued that the two affidavits “created issues of credibility for all concerned” because Valdivia’s 2017 affidavit “made it obvious that he was being less than fully candid in August of 2009 when he did not disclose the true nature of his relationship to Cheslerean.”

artleonardobservations.com, November 12, 2019 by Arthur Leonard

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K-pop star Holland on coming out and providing a voice for LGBTQ people in South Korea

K-pop star Holland is walking the path less travelled with pride.

The South Korean singer, commonly referred to as the ‘first gay K-pop star Holland idol’ in the media, made a massive step for queer representation in his home country when he emerged onto the music scene last year as an out and proud artist, putting his sexuality (and his heart) on the line as he sang about discrimination and wanting to escape to a place where he can love freely on debut single Neverland.K-pop star Holland

The music video featured a same-sex kiss, which disappointingly gained it a 19+ rating in South Korea. Despite this, it still managed to rack up over one million views in under 24 hours, and received a mostly positive response from music fans. Since then, he’s dropped his first mini album, the self-titled Holland, and continues to provide a voice for South Korea’s queer community.

“LGBTQ rights in Korea are still not very progressive in comparison to some other countries,” he explains. “Even the fact I debuted [as an openly gay singer] in Korea gained lots of attention here. I want to be a person of good influence by sharing my story and music with the public, and by interacting with fans.”

As he prepares for his upcoming full-length album – which we’re promised is coming soon – we caught up with Holland to talk about life for the LGBTQ community in South Korea, why it’s so important for him to highlight same-sex romance in his music despite the potential for backlash, and what his experience has been like as an openly gay man in the K-pop industry. 

Congratulations on releasing your first mini album Holland! How does it feel to know that people are listening to it and enjoying it?
I am just so amazed, and I feel so loved, way more than I ever thought I deserved. I also do feel a sense of responsibility and pressure to do better and work harder. I want to be able to reach a point where lots of people accept that I am indeed worthy of love and respect. I am also so grateful for the fans who fully understand what I was trying to say with this album. 

Where did you get your inspiration from when creating the mini album?
It’s a combination of my past relationship history and the messages I’ve wanted to tell my fans. It’s 100% my story, and my story only. I really tried to put all my raw emotions that I have felt over the past year – both before and after my debut. In the end, it’s ultimately myself that inspires my own music. 

daytimes.co.uk, November 11, 2019 by Daniel Megarry

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Ireland to List Both Same-Sex Parents on Child’s Birth Certificate

There’s a major loophole in Ireland in the Same-sex birth certificate new regulations, however.

Ireland will soon allow both same-sex parents to be listed on their child’s birth certificate for the first time.Ireland gay

On Monday, Health Minister Simon Harris announced that the Emerald Isle will be moving forward with new regulations intended to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ+ families. Under current policy, only the parent that is biologically related to a child is permitted to have their name printed on the baby’s birth records.

The updated guidelines will make room for same-sex couples who concieve using a sperm donor to both be considered their child’s legal parents.

Under current procedure, a lesbian who uses an anonymous sperm donor to have a baby with her legally wedded wife would have to apply for guardianship to have any rights to the child. Ireland voted in favor of marriage equality in May 2015 in a historic referendum, with 62 percent of voters supporting the freedom to marry.

However, there remain loopholes in the law that will continue to be used to target gay male couples. The proposed updates do not cover same-sex parents who conceieve using IVF, meaning that a gay man will not automatically be deemed his child’s legal guardian if his husband uses an egg donor to have a baby. He would be forced to go through an expensive, taxing legal process to claim that right. 

Equality for Children, a nonprofit which campaigned to raise awareness of the discriminatory policies, blasted the new regulations. In a statement, Founder Ranae Von Meding claimed the updates are “not a win” for same-sex parents.

“The signing of this commencement order has already been delayed seven times over the last five years, and only a fraction of LGBT+ families and their children will be covered by it,” said Von Meding, who has two children with her wife. “My family, along with many others, will continue to be left behind.”

Von Meding told the Irish women’s news site Her that “50 percent of children would be left behind by this legislation.

out.com, November 4, 2019 by Nico Lang

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Kmart Selling Popular Family Doll Sets With Two Dads, Two Moms

But online Kmart shoppers don’t get to choose their doll family’s genders.

Kmart Australia recently introduced a line of doll families featuring same-sex parents.same-sex parents

Sydney and Melbourne locations of the Wesfarmers-owned discount department store chain have already reported selling out of the new doll sets, which come with a mom and dad, two moms, or two dads, the Star-Observer reports.

Manufactured by Anko, Kmart Australia’s international house brand, all doll sets include two kids, a baby stroller, a pet, and a picnic basket with food items.

newnownext.com, November 3, 2019 by Brandon Voss

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Northern Ireland Set to Legalize Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage

The collapse of local government allowed Parliament to step in and bring the Northern Ireland ’s laws in line with Britain’s principles of human rights.

Traditionally conservative Northern Ireland is about to legalize both abortion and same-sex marriage, a head-snapping about-face that was imposed on the territory by the British Parliament.Ireland gay

The changes, bitterly resisted by anti-abortion and church groups, were mandated in an amendment to a routine bill on governance of Northern Ireland that Parliament passed in July amid a power vacuum created by the collapse of the region’s governing assembly nearly three years ago.

The amendment will go into effect at midnight on Monday, weeks after the High Court in Belfast rebuffed a legal challenge, ruling that Northern Ireland’s 158-year-old abortion laws are incompatible with the United Kingdom’s human rights commitments.

The judgment was a major victory for women’s rights activists, who had felt left behind after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalize abortion last year. Although Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of its people say they would like abortion to be made available, the regional power-sharing government had blocked abortion reform before collapsing in 2017 over sectarian divides.

British lawmakers saw the political paralysis as an opportunity, and, during a Parliamentary sitting in July, overwhelmingly voted to legalize same-sex marriage and abortion. While both have been hot-button issues in the United States and other countries, same-sex marriage has not stirred the intense reaction in Northern Ireland that the lifting of the abortion ban has.

At the Northern Ireland Assembly’s mammoth building in Stormont on Monday, lawmakers reconvened for the first time in nearly three years in a last-ditch and almost certainly futile attempt to prevent the new abortion law from going into effect.

As they met, groups of activists from both sides of the issue faced off on the grounds outside. “Pro-life, that’s a lie — you don’t care if women die,” one group chanted as opposing protesters held up pictures of fetuses emblazoned across signs that read “Save me, be my voice, please let me live.”

NYTimes.com by Ceylan Yeginsu, October 21, 2019

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France moves to make reproductive technology legal for all

France moves to make reproductive technology legal for all

Isabelle Laurans and her boyfriend tried for years to have a baby. When nothing else worked, they decided to try France reproductive technology in the form of in vitro fertilization, or IVF. France reproductive technology

But halfway through the process, Laurans’ boyfriend changed his mind. He dumped her the day they were supposed to make the embryo in the lab.

Laurans says she doesn’t remember most of what went through her mind that day. What she does recall is the overwhelming fear that she’d never get to be a mom.

“I was 38. I knew it would be perhaps too late for me if I waited for a new relationship,” she said.

That same day, Laurans says she was on the internet, looking for a Plan B.

“I didn’t want to risk missing out on becoming a mother altogether,” she explained.

So, Laurans decided to get IVF on her own.

One problem, though: In France, single women aren’t allowed to get IVF. They’re also not allowed to freeze their eggs or get artificial insemination. Lesbian couples are also denied access to assisted reproductive technologies. French law only permits these treatments to women in long-term, heterosexual relationships, putting France at odds with most of its European neighbors (though Germany has similar restrictions).

And so in 2015, Laurans traveled to Belgium to get the treatment. She gave birth to a baby girl, Charlotte, later that year. Laurans says she was lucky to be able to do it.

“It was expensive … and it wasn’t easy,” she said. She had to go through two rounds of IVF. It cost her about $5,500 in all. That might seem cheap to Americans who can pay between $10,000-$15,000 per IVF cycle, depending on insurance coverage. But in France, if Laurans had still been with her boyfriend, the treatment would have been free.  

www.PRI.org – October 18, 2019, by Sarah Birnbaum

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The French Court of Final Appeal recognises parents of surrogate twins after 19 years

The French Court of Final Appeal has officially acknowledged the sole parenthood of a couple who raised twins borne by a surrogate mother in the United States, ending 19 years of judicial battles for Dominique and Sylvie Mennesson.

The French Court fo Final Appeal decision came after an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, and a day after French MPs vote to recognise filiation for surrogacy children born abroad and a day after French MPs voted to recognise parenthood of children born through surrogacy abroad.French court of final appeal

“Victory and relief…our children are no longer ghosts,” said Dominque Mennesson, father of the twins in a reaction to the verdict. “They are now our children legally.”

In 2000, Mennesson and his wife Sylvie, who is infertile, had a successful surrogacy (GPA, or “gestation pour autrui” in French) treatment in the United States. Mennesson’s sperm was implanted in the uterus of an anonymous woman, who bore twins, named Valentina and Fiorella by their parents. 

At the time, judges in California, where the procedure took place, ruled that Dominique Mennesson was the “genetic father” and his wife the “legal mother,” and issued birth certificates and US passports.

 

Punishable

But in France, recourse to surrogacy is illegal to prevent the human body from becoming a “commercial instrument”, with the risk that the child may become an object of a contract.

French law stipulates that surrogacy is punishable by one year prison and a 15,000-euro fine. The French Consulate in Los Angeles, suspecting surrogacy arrangements, therefore refused to enter the certificates of the Mennessons in the French civil register.

By RFI, October 4, 2019

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Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, UN employees

Unmarried, same-sex partners of diplomats and U.N. employees have until the end the year to get married or leave the U.S.

President Donald Trump’s administration began denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and officials and employees of the United Nations this week — making marriage a requirement to be eligible for a visa. same-sex partners of diplomats

The policy was made effective Monday.

It comes despite the fact that the majority of countries do not recognize same-sex marriage and many same-sex couples face prosecution in their own countries. 

The shift was detailed in a memo circulated at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month but unveiled in July, according to the State Department. 

The policy shift gives the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. workers until the end of the year to get married or leave the country.

The State Department said in a briefing Tuesday that the policy will affect about 105 families in the USA, 55 of which have links to various international organizations. It was not clear how many foreign diplomats and U.N. employees with pending U.S. posts will be affected by the policy change.

 

Twelve percent of the 193 U.N. member states represented in New York allow same-sex marriage, according to Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who served under President Barack Obama. 

The Trump administration said the new policy is more consistent with the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage. The heterosexual partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. employees are also not eligible for U.S. visas.

Critics of the move argued the policy would create hardship for gay couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or offer only civil unions. Those who marry in the USA to secure their visa status could face criminal proceedings once they return to their home nations. 

“Those not yet in the country will need to show they’re married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at UN headquarters or family separation,” Akshaya Kumar, deputy U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a blog post.

USAToday.com by Kim Hjelmagaard, October 5, 2019

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