India has issued new directives prohibiting gay couples and singles from using surrogate mothers to become parents, according to a statement on the website of Indian embassies.
The new rules, which were circulated to Indian embassies late last year, state that foreign couples looking to enter into surrogacy arrangement in India must be a “man and women (who) are duly married and the marriage should be sustained at least two years”.
According to a notice on the websites of Indian consulates abroad, the visa application must as well declare whether the couple’s home country recognizes surrogacy, as well as guarantees that the country will permit the entry of the child born from an Indian surrogate.
The rules further stated that applicants seeking a surrogacy arrangement must also apply for a medical visa instead of a tourist visa, adding that entering into surrogacy arrangement under any other visa not sought for surrogacy is punishable under the Indian law.
Commercial surrogacy thrives in India. Lately, the rate of childless foreign couples has increased attributed to gay partners and single people seeking low-cost, legally convenient way to parenthood.
Several cases of babies born out of cross-border surrogacy who have been trapped in citizenship crisis as their parents’ countries denied them passports have also often been reported.
The Indian media gained access to the new directives on Friday even though they [the rules] were circulated to Indian missions abroad.
India has -- in recent years -- become a popular destination for gay couples seeking children -- even as the country remains largely conservative and only decriminalized consensual sex between homosexuals in 2011.
Critics observe that lack of legislation that governs surrogacy promote “rent-a-womb exploitation of young and poor Indian women”.