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Same sex no bar

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US citizen Brad Fister, who lives in Kentucky with his same-sex partner, cradles his daughter Ashton who was 'made' in Hyderabad earlier this year.

India's niche: Helping gay couples complete their family...

Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which made homosexuality a criminal offence, was read down last year. But, ironically, gay couples from across the world had been coming to India to have children with the help of surrogate mothers for years before that. Apart from the fact that there are no laws barring same sex couples from having children here, surrogacy is cheap - about one-third the price that one would pay in the US, which is why Americans come to India though same sex surrogacy is legal in some states there.

Many infertility clinics which practice surrogacy are only too happy to help gay couples, who comprise a substantial chunk of the market. In Mumbai, Rotunda, an infertility clinic, is popular among gay couples. Rotunda, which declined to speak to TOICrest, declares that it is LGBTfriendly on its website and even has instructions in Hebrew for its patrons from Israel, a country that does not allow same sex couples to have children via surrogacy. The most well-known couple to have a baby with Rotunda are Yonatan and Omer Gher, who had a son, Evyatar, in 2007.

The decriminalisation of Article 377 has further encouraged same sex couples from around the world. G R Hari, who runs a law firm called the Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, explains that even countries with liberal attitudes towards homosexuality have stringent laws that restrict the practice of surrogacy. He reckons that no other country offers India's combination of low cost and hassle-free surrogacy.

Recently, however, Dr R S Sharma, deputy director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), was quoted as saying that gay and lesbian couples would be allowed to have children via surrogacy only if the Indian government recognises homosexual relationships at the time the Draft Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill 2008 is passed. However, the bill, which says that single parents are eligible to engage in surrogacy, does not specify this. Hari points out that the biological parent in a gay couple enlists the services of a surrogate as a single parent. "There is nothing that suggests there is a problem with regard to surrogacy, " he says.

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