India a hot spot for gay couples keen on babies
Despite beeing engaged in a legal battle to have homosexuality depenalized, India offers foreign gay couples the chance to become parents. "The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) in 2002 allowed Indian clinics to treat same-sex couples with donor egg IVF and surrogacy." "Couples prefer India because they get world-class treatment at affordable rates. Moreover, the Church is vocal in many countries against homosexuality and same-sex marriages."
MUMBAI: They don't make a traditional family portrait, but there is steady stream of gay couples coming to the city for infertility treatment to have babies. The ongoing debate in court on Article 377 notwithstanding, India is being seen as an affordable haven for gay couples, whether married or not, who want to be parents. In fact, in the last week of September, city's infertility specialist Dr Gautam Allahabadia spoke at the fourth world congress of the World Association of Reproductive Medicine in Mexico about his Bandra clinic's experience with 12 gay couples. "From 2005 to 2007, 12 same-sex gay couples were treated with a total of 16 oocyte retrieval cycles," he told the audience, which included the creator of Dolly, the cloned sheep, Dr K H S Campbell. The 16 cycles were done using surrogate mothers. All the gay couples hailed from foreign countries, including France, Spain, Sweden and Israel. Six couples got pregnant, with four surrogate mothers having already delivered. "The first couple got a boy and girl, the second and third got a boy each," said the doctor. While the fourth couple's surrogate delivered prematurely and the twins died, the fifth and sixth couples are awaiting delivery next month. At a time when Union ministers are caught in a war of words over Article 377, which considers homosexuality as an abnormal act, gay activists and doctors point out that guidelines laid down by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) in 2002 allowed Indian clinics to treat same-sex couples with donor egg IVF and surrogacy. Gay rights activist Manvendra Singh Gohil, better recognised after his interview with American TV host Oprah Winfrey as the Gay Prince of Rajpipla, is happy with the development. "Most of us are fond of children. It's natural that gays and lesbians want children. Adoption and IVF treatment is hence emerging as an option," he told TOI. He gave the example of a lesbian couple in Ahmedabad who had used donor sperm to have a child. "We started getting requests in 2005. Couples prefer India because they get world-class treatment at affordable rates. Moreover, the Church is vocal in many countries against homosexuality and same-sex marriages." The beeline for IVF treatment among gay couples first began in California in the US, which recognises same-sex marriages. However, the prohibitive costs of IVF treatment as well as cost of engaging a surrogate mother prove to be a deterrent. "Gay and lesbian couples opting for IVF has been reported from the US and Israel," said infertility specialist Dr Aniruddha Malpani, who has treated a lesbian couple recently. "While there is no medical issue over same-sex couples having children, social aspects do come up. Moreover, given the fact that we still don’t have laws on surrogacy (the draft rules were put up online a couple of weeks back), there would also be a concern over how would such couples get their paperwork done to take their child home," he added. The main concern that medical experts have, over the years, raised is whether children raised by gay and lesbian couples are harmed or disadvantaged by that fact alone. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has stated that "there is no persuasive evidence" to suggest any such disadvantage. "The same-sex couples who have came to us so far have all been educated, holding good jobs and clear in their thoughts," said Dr Allahabadia. "Given the changing society and demands, doctors and medicine has to change accordingly," he added
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