Thailand takes steps to legalize and lift nearly ten-year-old ban on surrogacy services for foreign and same-sex couples

Thailand is set to lift a nearly ten-year-old restriction on foreigners using commercial surrogacy services, potentially opening access for gay and lesbian couples.

Published on Apr 02, 2024  |  05:36 PM IST |  20.6K
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Key Highlight
  • Thailand is to lift a nearly ten-year-old ban on foreigners using commercial surrogacy services
  • Health Ministry will present a bill amending a law that outlaws surrogacy for foreigners

Thailand is to lift a nearly ten-year-old ban on foreigners using commercial surrogacy services to increase medical tourism. Once same-sex marriages are legalized in the nation later this year, gay and lesbian couples may also be able to access these services.

Bill to presented to legalize surrogacy services for foreign and same-sex couples

According to Arkhom Praditsuwan, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of Health Services Support, the Health Ministry is getting ready to present a bill amending a law that outlaws surrogacy for foreigners to parliament as early as July. This will be the first modification made to the ban since it was first imposed in 2015 in response to public outcry over an Australian couple who abandoned a child who was born with Down syndrome.

The goal of the change is to make it fair for all Thai couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. The growing need for surrogacy services is another factor considered in the ban's repeal. This will boost medical tourism and increase the nation's revenue.

The decision to bring back commercial surrogacy fits in with several other initiatives aimed at enhancing the country's reputation as a travel destination for gay and lesbian couples. Thailand is expected to be the first nation in Southeast Asia to legalize gay marriage, and last week the House of Representatives approved a panel's research that would allow for the legalization of casinos located inside large entertainment complexes.

If the same-sex marriage bill is already enacted into law, Thai LGBTQ couples will have access to these services if the parliament approves modifications to surrogacy laws, according to Arkhom. However, giving foreigners the same access may take some time as the authorities adjust the regulations to ensure that the new newborns are treated fairly.


What does the current law states

As of right now, users of surrogacy services must be Thai, or at least one of the partners must be Thai, as required by the Protection for Children Born via Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act. Srettha Thavisin, the prime minister, is committed to making Thailand a center for wellness and medical travel in the area. Combining surrogacy with reasonably priced gender-neutral cosmetic surgery and reproductive treatments could help boost the country's flagging tourism industry and attract high-spending visitors. For those seeking medical care, the nation grants multiple-entry visas valid for a year.

Amid a seven-decade low in Thailand's birth rate, the government is also modifying legislation to provide reproductive technology access to young men and women in the area who are eager to have a family but do not yet have a partner. According to the health ministry, if immediate action is not taken, Thailand's population could decrease by half to 33 million during the next 60 years.

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