Nepal surrogacy ban to affect same-sex couples

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The Nepali Supreme court has issued an injunction suspending commercial surrogacy across the country.

The temporary ban – which takes immediate effect – will not apply to couples who have already started the surrogacy process.

Any new cases, however, will not be registered.

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court said: “There are currently no laws regarding surrogacy. This raises many constitutional and legal questions.

“So the court issued a stay order on surrogacy services yesterday… until the case is settled.”

Foreign women were given permission to serve as surrogates in the Himalayan nation last year – however, Nepalese women are not allowed.

Nepal has since become a popular destination for same-sex couples wishing to start a family – especially since tougher laws were introduced in other surrogacy hotspots such as Thailand and India.

Women’s rights groups have welcomed the move, arguing that surrogate mothers are seen as nothing more than “subjects of trade.”

“Women should not be a subject of trade, neither should a child,” said advocate Prabin Pandak – who filed the original lawsuit .

She argued that although Nepali women are banned for being surrogates by law, they often “misrepresented” as other nationalities in order to be “used” by surrogacy agencies.

“Nepali women are not allowed to be surrogate mothers, but they are misrepresented as Indian and used for surrogacy.”

However, Dana Magdassi – owner of the Lotus surrogacy agency, which operates in Nepal – said the court’s intervention could actually be beneficial.

“Our attorneys are very optimistic,” she told Forward.

“They think the decision asks for good details; it sounds as if the judge truly wants to hear.

“The questions the judge asks are relevant and legitimate questions – what happens regarding the child’s rights, the woman’s rights; who makes sure the woman is paid.”

In April, Israel airlifted 25 surrogate babies, of mostly gay male parents, after Nepal was hit by a earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people.

New laws banning surrogacy in Thailand came into effect earlier this month – ending access previously available to gay couples.