Gay parenting ‘boot camp’ moves to Asia to meet growing demand from China


The world’s largest “boot camp” to help gay men become parents will stage its first Asia event next month to address growing demand for surrogates from China and the region, organizers said on Thursday.

Men Having Babies
Men Having Babies Chairman Emeritus, Anthony M. Brown, speaks
at the New York City Gay Parenting Conference.

New York-based non-profit Men Having Babies (MHB) stages events across the world to provide advice and support to all LGBT+ people who want to become parents and plans to stage its first annual Asian event on March 9-10 in Taipei, Taiwan.

“We have been witnessing over the last three years, a growing interest from Asia – mostly Chinese – intended parents coming to the United States for surrogacy,” said Ron Poole-Dayan, founder and executive director at MHB.

Socially conservative attitudes prevail across most of Asia where Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei outlaw sexual relations between men, and Indonesia has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBT+ people.

But changes are happening, with India moving to scrap Section 377 outlawing same-sex relations last year, and Taiwan this week proposing a draft law to allow same-sex marriage.

The issue of lesbian and gay couples having access to medically-assisted reproductive treatments like IVF has stirred political debate recently in several countries.

Many countries, including Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, and Britain, ban for-profit surrogacy, although they allow some form of surrogacy if no payment is involved. In the United States, the legality of surrogacy is determined by each state.

Gay couples are banned from applying for surrogacy in countries such as Nigeria and Russia.

Poole-Dayan, who has 18-year-old twins with his husband, began MHB in 2005 with monthly workshops giving advice to gay men interested in becoming biological parents and now holds about seven conferences a year.

The two-day events, which are held across the United States, Europe, Canada and Israel, have made MHB the largest “boot camp” for gay parenting in the world, said Poole-Dayan.

He said the internet was flooded with people trying to push surrogacy information but it was hard to know where to start so the two-day events involved surrogate mothers and egg donors, doctors, lawyers and local clinic representatives.

“Our conferences are not meant to persuade to become parents … they are meant for people who already want to become parents (and) to make the process more accessible and easier,” Poole-Dayan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“People are starting to realize .. the fact that they’re gay doesn’t mean that they’re not going to be able to have a full life including starting a family and having children.”

Reuters.com, by Michael Taylor, February 21, 2019

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‘I Have to Stay Alive’: Gay Brazilian Lawmaker Gives Up Seat Amid Threats

An openly gay federal Brazilian lawmaker who has frequently clashed with the country’s new far-right president said on Thursday that he was giving up his seat because of death threats.

The lawmaker, Jean Wyllys, a fierce advocate for gay rights who was due to be sworn in for a third term in February, said in an interview with the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that “this environment isn’t safe for me” after the assassination of a political ally last March and violence that followed the election of the president, Jair Bolsonaro, in October.

“For the future of this cause,” Mr. Wyllys said, “I have to stay alive. I don’t want to be a martyr.” He added that he was currently on vacation abroad and did not plan to return to Brazil.

Mr. Wyllys called Mr. Bolsonaro, a former colleague of his in the lower house of Congress, “a president who always vilified me, who always openly insulted me, who was always homophobic with me.”

In 2016, Mr. Wyllys responded by spitting at Mr. Bolsonaro during the hearing to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Mr. Bolsonaro, before reinventing himself as a fighter of political corruption and rampant violence, was best known for delivering verbal attacks on women, black people and gay people from the congressional floor. 

Shortly after Mr. Wyllys’ interview was published, Mr. Bolsonaro, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, tweeted “Great day!” and a thumbs-up emoticon. Supporters weighed in, many with homophobic comments.

Mr. Wyllys has been the target of death threats for years, but he said those threats had become more severe after Marielle Franco, a human rights advocate who was his friend and political ally, was assassinated.

NYTimes.com, January 25, 2019 by Shasta Darlington

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Non-gender specific birth certificates to be used for same-sex couples in Ireland

The current options of ‘Mother’ or Father’ pose problems for same-sex couples

birth certificate

Same-sex couples who are parents in Ireland will be able to list themselves as ‘parent’ on their child’s birth certificate.

This amendment to the law is designed to accommodate to same-sex couples, allowing both partners to register on their child’s birth certificate.

Under the current system, birth certificates only include the categories ‘Mother’ and ‘Father’.

Birth certificates for donor-assisted children born to same-sex couples currently only allow one mother to be listed.

‘Introduced as soon as possible’

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said that allowing to the option of ‘parent’ would resolve such issues, saying implementing the bill would be prioritized.

‘While the changes proposed will affect a relatively small number of people, they touch on matters that are very sensitive and of great importance to those families affected,’ Doherty said.

‘I have met with and spoken to many affected by this issue and I am now very pleased to be able to bring these changes forward as a priority to ensure that they can be introduced as soon as possible.’

The case had been raised in the Dáil (the Lower House of the Irish parliament) last year, according to TheJournal.ie.

Politician Richard Boyd Barrett said that a pregnant woman had contacted him with concerns about her wife not being able to register on their child’s birth certificate.

The completed bill will go before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the spring.

GayStarNews.com by Calum Stuart, January 12, 2019

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UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

UK surrogacy law embraces single parents from today

compassionate surrogacy

Today the clock also starts ticking on the six month window during which existing single parents through surrogacy can apply for a parental order retrospectively. The window will close on 2 July 2019, with applications beyond that possible but more complicated. If you are a single parent of a child born through surrogacy and would like more information about whether and how to make an application then contact us by emailing hello@ngalaw.co.uk or calling 0203 701 5915.

To mark today’s law change, we wanted to reflect on our campaigning journey of the last ten years. It all started in 2008 when, as part of making UK fertility law more inclusive, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill 2008 proposed broadening who could apply for a parental order from just married couples to married, unmarried and same-sex couples. Single parents remained excluded so, through her work as part of a stakeholders’ group supporting progressive reform, NGA Law founder Natalie Gamble proposed and drafted an amendment to the Bill which would have included single parents too. Her amendment was tabled by Dr Evan Harris MP when the Bill was in Committee, but not pursued when it became clear the government did not support it. On behalf of the government Dawn Primarolo MP said:

Surrogacy is such a sensitive issue, fraught with potential complications such as the surrogate mother being entitled to change her mind and decide to keep her baby, that the 1990 Act quite specifically limits parental orders to married couples where the gametes of at least one of them are used. That recognises the magnitude of a situation in which a person becomes pregnant with the express intention of handing the child over to someone else, and the responsibility that that places on the people who will receive the child. There is an argument, which the Government have acknowledged in the Bill, that such a responsibility is likely to be better handled by a couple than a single man or woman.

There was no evidence basis for such a statement, but it was clear that discrimination against single parents was government policy rather than oversight.

At both NGA Law and Brilliant Beginnings we continued to help single parents through surrogacy as we have always done. The lack of availability of parental orders hasn’t stopped single mums and dads having children through surrogacy. It has, however, made things harder and restricted the legal recognition of their families. All but two of the single parents we have worked with have had to go overseas to find a surrogate and almost all have then lived under the radar, without parental responsibility and with their surrogate remaining their child’s legal mother in the U.K., hoping that no one would ever question their authority to parent. We have shared their frustration about how unfair and discriminatory the law was.

By Natalie Gamble, NGA Blog, January 3, 2019

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Gay Couples Rush to Wed Before Brazil’s New President Takes Office

Just hours after Jair Bolsonaro won Brazil’s presidential election in a landslide victory for conservatives, Carolina Zannata and her girlfriend called the closest public notary and set a date for their wedding.

Gay marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, and Ms. Zannata said she and Aline Foguel had not been in a hurry to wed. But the triumph of Mr. Bolsonaro — a far-right politician who once declared “I’m homophobic, with pride” — changed their calculations.

Brazil Gay

“We got scared,” said Ms. Zannata. “We need to take advantage of our hard-won rights because we might not have them afterward.”

On Jan. 1, Mr. Bolsonaro will be sworn into office, and high on his agenda is making good on his campaign pledge to defend “the true meaning of matrimony as a union between man and woman.”

Once president, he will have the power to act on his promise. His party will also become the second-largest force in the lower house, thanks to an outpouring of support at the ballot box in October.

Legal experts say that the Supreme Court would almost certainly strike down legislation that reversed the legalization of same-sex marriage, but it is not clear how long the process could take.

“There could be attempts to make same-sex marriage illegal, but the Constitution will prevail,” said José Fernando Simão, a professor of civil rights and family law at the University of São Paulo. “It’s natural for there to be concern. This is a community that has been ultra-marginalized in the past.”

And so, in early December, Ms. Zannata and Ms. Foguel gathered friends and family for a simple wedding ceremony at the notary’s office, followed by a festive lunch. They joined a wave of same-sex couples rushing to the altar out of love, but also fear or in defiance of what the incoming government might do.

Four of the five ceremonies at the notary’s office that Saturday morning were same-sex marriages.

According to the notary association Arpen, the number of same-sex marriages across Brazil surged 66 percent in November. In São Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city, there were 57 same-sex weddings in just the first 10 days of December, compared with 113 for whole month of December 2017.

By Shasta Darlington, New York Times, December 29, 2018

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Singapore allows same-sex fathers to adopt their surrogate son

In a landmark decision, Singapore’s highest court has allowed a gay couple to adopt their son, who was conceived through surrogacy in the United States.

The case began in December 2014 when fathers “James” and “Shawn” applied for James – whose sperm was used for the assisted reproduction – to adopt their son, “Noel”, hoping to remove the stigma of illegitimacy. Their real names have not been disclosed.

James and Shawn, who heard the news at 10.25am through their lawyers, were elated. They had gone to work as usual, despite knowing the judgment would be released on Monday morning.

“It was business as usual because we didn’t want to get our hopes too high,” said James, who is a doctor.

Shawn works in the marketing industry. Both men are 45, of Chinese ethnicity, and are Singaporeans. The men have been in a relationship for 13 years, living together since 2003.

James said the family was happy and relieved that the Court of Appeal has allowed the adoption of Noel.

“The fight to raise our family in Singapore has been a long and difficult journey,” he said. “We hope that the adoption will increase the chances of our son to be able to stay in Singapore with his family. His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestone.”His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestoneJames, father

The process was treated as single-parent adoption and will confer to James sole parental rights and responsibility for the child. Both fathers hoped this will make it easier for Noel, now four years old, to acquire Singapore citizenship. The South China Morning Post in January reported on the family’s legal limbo. Noel had been rejected for citizenship and at the time the fathers applied for his adoption, Noel was on a dependent’s pass that has since been renewed every six months.

Last year, the couple had their bid rejected by the Family Justice Courts one day after Christmas, although District Judge Shobha Nair said Noel would be provided for, with or without an adoption order.

By Kok Xinghui, TheStar.com, December 17, 2018

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Cambodia’s surrogate mothers go free after agreeing to raise Chinese children but some see it as a mixed blessing

  • Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two flats where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Phnom Penh
  • They were charged the following month with violating human-trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves
Cambodia

Sophea was eight months pregnant when Cambodian police told her she would have to keep the baby that was never meant to be hers – and forfeit the US$10,000 she was promised for acting as a surrogate for a Chinese couple.

Cambodia banned commercial surrogacy in 2016, and police in June raided two flats where Sophea and 31 other surrogate mothers were being cared for in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

They were charged the following month with violating human-trafficking laws, but authorities released them on bail last week, under the condition they raise the children themselves.

Campaigners say Cambodia’s surrogacy crackdown is unlikely to end the trade as poverty means many women will continue to risk arrest for the chance to earn life-changing sums of money.

For some of the newly freed women, keeping their baby is a burden as they struggle to get by. For others, it is a relief.

Despite the financial loss, 24-year-old Sophea said she was happy the authorities intervened, and that her family had welcomed her baby boy.

South China Morning Post, December 11, 2018

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Taiwan voters reject same-sex marriage

Taiwan voters rejected same-sex marriage in a referendum Saturday, dealing a blow to the LGBT community and allies who hoped the island would become the first place in Asia to allow same-sex unions.

In Taiwan, three referendum questions initiated by groups that opposed marriage equality passed, while those put forth by same-sex marriage advocates did not.Taiwan
 
For instance, the majority vote was yes on a question that asked, “Do you agree that Civil Code regulations should restrict marriage to being between a man and a woman?”
Voters, meanwhile, rejected a question put forth by LGBT activists that asked if civil code marriage regulations “should be used to guarantee the rights of same-sex couples to get married.”
Amnesty International Taiwan’s Acting Director Annie Huang called the result “a bitter blow and a step backwards for human rights” on the island.
 
“However, despite this setback, we remain confident that love and equality will ultimately prevail,”Huang said in a statement. “The result must not be used as an excuse to further undermine the rights of LGBTI people. The Taiwanese government needs to step up and take all necessary measures to deliver equality and dignity for all, regardless of who people love.”
 
By Hira Humayun and Susannah Cullinane, CNN.com, November 25. 2018
 
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Dutch Clinics to Start Offering Surrogacy to Gay Couples

Gay couples who want to have a child through a surrogate mother can do so at Dutch clinics from next year, according to a survey by television program De Monitor. Until now that has been impossible in the Netherlands due to strict regulations, newspaper AD reports.

At least two Dutch clinics will start offering surrogacy to gay couples next year – MC Kinderwens in Leiderdorp and Nij Geertgen clinic in Elsendorp. In Leiderdorp the surrogate mother must also donate the egg. In Elsendorp the surrogate and egg donor may be different people. 

“I think it’s too crazy for words that gay couples, but also women with oncological complaints for example, have to go abroad to fulfill their desire to have children”, Nij Geertgen director Marc Scheijven said to De Monitor. “While we have all medical and technical experience in house.”

By Janene Pieters on November 13, 2018 nltimes.nl

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In Scottish schools, students will be required to learn about LGBTI history

Just 18 years ago, it was still illegal in Scotland to “intentionally promote homosexuality” in schools.

Now, the Scottish government will mandate all state schools introduce a curriculum that explains the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) activism. Schools will also educate students on the use of LGBTI terminology and discuss ways to address homophobia.Scottish

“Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential,” Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney said Thursday. “The recommendations I have accepted will not only improve the learning experience of our LGBTI young people, they will also support all learners to celebrate their differences, promote understanding and encourage inclusion.”

The move came after a campaign called Time for Inclusive Education presented a series of suggestions to the Scottish government. According to a 2016 research report on the Scottish LGBTI community published by the group, “90% of LGBT people have experienced homophobia, biphobia or transphobia at school.” The same research found that 27 percent of LGBTI people had attempted suicide — some more than once.

Scottish ministers adopted all of the recommendations from the campaign’s working group. The Guardian reported there will not be options to opt out of the curriculum, which will be interspersed throughout various subjects.

Swinney said this makes Scotland “the first country in the world to have LGBTI-inclusive education embedded within the curriculum.”

In recent years, Scotland has reckoned with its legacy of discrimination against the LGBTI community.

In a unanimous vote in June, Scottish lawmakers chose to pardon men who were previously charged with participating in homosexual acts. The BBC reported at the time that sexual relations between two men was decriminalized in Scotland in 1981. Some of the acts that were previously considered illegal and for which gay men are now being pardoned included consensual sex in private, or even acts such as kissing in public. In some cases, men perceived as flirting with another man could also have been charged.

Thousands of men were to be pardoned after the law was passed in June. But when it comes to the LGBTI community, there are still divisions within Scottish society, especially among religious leaders.

Washington Post, by Siobhan O’Grady – Nomvemb er 9, 2018

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