The prospect of starting a family has been dashed for some gay men in Australia following a decision by the Indian Government to cut access to its popular commercial surrogacy program.
It also leaves gay couples and other groups of people who have already started the process there in a legal limbo, unsure how they will return to Australia with their newborn children.
The Indian government has issued a new directive that only heterosexual couples who have been married for more than two years can enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements, and only if it is legal in their home country.
The Northern Territory is the only place in Australia where commercial surrogacy is allowed.
Gay Dads Australia spokesman Rodney Chiang-Cruise said it was disappointing to many gay couples who had started the process or were planning to start this year in India.
“They placed their hopes and dreams, in becoming parents, in India; it was a viable option for them and now for many of them that’s been closed off and all very suddenly,” he said.
“There are many, many depressed and upset men out there at the moment who are thinking ‘well, what can we do?’”
There are only two realistic options left for future Australian gay dads at the moment: Thailand and the US.
Cruise said commercial surrogacy in Thailand was not ideal since it was not as established, while the US, which has a more regulated system, was expensive and estimated to cost $150,000-170,000 per child.
“The closure of India has cut a lot of people out of the surrogacy process altogether because if they are struggling to afford India, they won’t even contemplate the US,” he said.
“There’s a lot of distressed men out there who got to a stage where they thought ‘I can be a dad, I can do this’ and saving vigorously to do it and then the door has been shut.
“So far, people have been able to get their children back home and not without some difficulty or some inconvenience.”
But he said Indian authorities may be “less lenient” later this year once the policy has settled in.
For couples with pregnant surrogates already, Cruise said they would just have to face the administrative issues once the child was born.
He remained optimistic however and said these laws were often fluid and could change in future.