More gay men like Anderson Cooper are fathering children through surrogacy, but laws vary hugely in different countries. Here’s what to know about LGBT+ surrogacy rights around the world
LONDON, May 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – American newscaster Anderson Cooper paid tribute to his “remarkable” surrogate as he announced the birth of his son this week, saying as a gay kid, he never thought it would be possible to have a child of his own.
“It is an extraordinary blessing – what she, and all surrogates give to families who can’t have children,” the 52-year-old posted on Instagram alongside four photos of baby Wyatt.
More and more gay men like Cooper are fathering children using surrogacy, something many LGBT+ rights campaigners see as a victory.
Yet others see surrogacy as exploitative, particularly where it involves wealthy men paying women who are less well-off to carry their child, and laws on the practice vary hugely from one country to another.
Here is what you need to know about gay parents and surrogacy:
Where is commercial surrogacy legal?
Places where it is legal for women to be paid to carry a child for a foreigner include Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and parts of the United States, where the practice is regulated at state rather than federal level.
Thailand and Cambodia used to be hubs for overseas commercial surrogacy, particularly for prospective parents from China, until it was banned in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Some forms of altruistic surrogacy are allowed in Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Britain and Australia (except for the Northern Territory which has no laws on the matter), but for-profit surrogacy is banned.
Countries including Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain outlaw all forms of surrogacy.
Where is LGBT+ surrogacy allowed?
Gay couples will soon be able to access surrogacy in Israel, after the country’s top court ruled against a law that excludes them in February, giving the government a year to pass a new one.
Tens of thousands of people protested against the law, which gave single and infertile women access to state support for surrogacy, when it was passed in 2018.
Taiwan bans all surrogacy. But since same-sex marriage was legalised in May 2019, commercial surrogacy agencies from the United States have marketed their services to gay couples on the island, including from Asian countries like China.
Gay couples are banned from surrogacy in countries including Nigeria and Russia, which also banned foreign same-sex couples from adopting children in the country in 2013.
India, where gay sex has been legal since 2018 but same-sex marriage remains illegal, restricted the use of surrogate mothers to married couples and single women in February.
Nepal, another former commercial surrogacy destination, now only allows infertile Nepali married couples to access it. But it excludes couples where one or more person is transgender and same-sex marriage is also not legal in the Himalayan state.
Which LGBT+ celebrities have used surrogate mothers?
Gay celebrities who have fathered children through surrogates in California include popstar Elton John and his husband David Furnish.
Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, whose son Robbie with his British Olympic diver husband Tom Daley was born in 2018, said the U.S. state was “the safest place” to have a surrogate child.
Andy Cohen, a U.S. presenter and close friend of Cooper’s, welcomed his surrogate son, Benjamin Allen Cohen, in February 2019, while other gay fathers through surrogacy include U.S. actor Neil Patrick Harris and Latino popstar Ricky Martin.