Two Discriminatory bills regarding surrogacy and Assisted Reproductive Technology for the LGBTQ+ community have been cleared by the Parliament, which will become laws after the approval from the President.
Bill 1; Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020, it only allows cisgender heterosexual legally married couples who are unable to conceive a child, to have a child via surrogacy. The bill has also added a provision for taking written and informed consent from the surrogate mother ahead of the procedure for surrogacy and that the surrogate can withdraw her consent anytime before the implantation of the embryo. But, the entire LGBTQ+ community is denied the right to have children via surrogacy. A right that the community had until now has been taken away.
Bill 2; Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2021, this bill only allows legally married cisgender heterosexual couples who are unable to conceive a child and single cisgender women to avail assisted reproductive technologies such as in-vitro-fertilisation to have a child. The bill denies all LGBTQ+ couples and individuals, except cisgender single women from out community, the right to have children via (ART).
Restricting the option of surrogacy to only cis-heterosexual couples is problematic, as it excludes the availability of surrogacy to the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ couples are not allowed to adopt a child in India. Single cisgender women are allowed to adopt a male or female child. Single cisgender men are allowed to adopt a male child. However, adoption for a single parent is extremely difficult and almost impossible for single men. Preference is always given to married cisgender heterosexual couples.
Transgender, non-binary, intersex individuals as well as couples are not allowed to ‘adopt’.
Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha, President of Rainbow Hill Association Gangtok denounced the bill stating it as largely unconstitutional and discriminatory, “It is against the human rights, civil rights and fundamental rights. Laws like this keep many others from coming out of the closet but it also hampers their mental health as I have observed and found among majority of people in the community. The pressure from the society itself is a lot to take in so, if such bills are passed by the government then how will anyone come out? When this kind of discriminatory bills become law then the people in the community face mental disorders, depression and loneliness. There are many in the community and specially in our state who can’t figure out what exactly they want and if laws like this are implemented then who would even want to come out as a LGBTQ+ member”
“Community people should take up multiple places in society specially in politics, contest in elections or cast your vote in favour of such political parties which follow inclusivity and a holistic approach, use different form of media to highlight the discriminatory bills.
Do public advocacy, hold rallies, speeches, signature campaigns, raise awareness by taking action and join or volunteer with a political party” she added.
LGBTQ are also human beings no differences so be open to learn listen and educate yourself about community, have courage and be kind enough to accept and support them in repeating these unwanted discriminatory bills.
The Lok Sabha passed this long awaited Bill to regulate and supervise Assisted Reproductive Technology clinics and to establish a national registry and registration authority in the country, which is emerging as a major centre in multi-million dollar fertility services industry.
Welcoming the Bill, National Congress Party’s (NCP) Supriya Sule said that besides couples, there are a cross-section of people in this country who want to have a child, especially the LGBTQ community and single men.
“This is something we, as a society, need to introspect…. I think we should not deprive any human being who deserves or wants to have a child. Why do we not put all the bright minds together and see how we can make sure that everybody can make use of all legislations,” Sule said.
“This Bill violates Article 14 of India’s Constitution, which states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India,” she added.
Opposition members in Lok Sabha questioned the Government for excluding live in couples, single men and the LGBTQ community from the ambit of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill saying it is ‘discriminatory’ and ‘patriarchal’
“This law doesn’t take into account the new realities of India, the LGBTQ+ community must also have access to this technology if they want. It is a non-progressive step and needs to be examined and addressed. Rights to access this technology should be available to everyone. Also, the challenge with any new legislation often lies in its implementation” said Dr. Ananth Bhan, Researcher, Global Health Bioethics that aims to promote and support ethical reflection within the society.