A gay couple from Australia has revealed that it paid two women in India, a whopping amount of $80,000 ($300 a day, for nine months) to bear babies. Fertility experts in the capital say that apart from having a ‘half a billion-dollar-a-year reproductive-tourism industry,’ India is now the hottest destination for gay couples seeking surrogate mothers for their unborn babies.
“I get around 50 queries in a month from gay couples abroad, who are in search of surrogacy. The trend has significantly increased in the last two years. The cost of surrogacy is much cheaper in India, and the laws are not stringent,” says Pankaj Nagpal of We Care India, a gay surrogacy agency based in Ashok Vihar. He adds, “Women who agree to be surrogates are from lower middle-class families, and need money. Although the Australian couple has paid an unprecedented amount, surrogate mothers are typically available for R 4-5 lakh, with an additional 2-3 lakh for the procedure and medicines.”
IVF specialist Dr Anoop Gupta, who has helped two gay couples find a suitable surrogate, says it’s the absence of surrogacy laws in India that makes it a popular destination. “Although commercial surrogacy is strictly illegal in countries like Australia, we only have some guidelines, laid out by the Indian Council of Medical Research,” he says.
Gay couples in Delhi too feel surrogacy provides them with a choice to have biological kids. “My partner and I always wanted a baby of our own. So we decided to go for a surrogate mother and are willing to pay a lot ,” says John, who did not wish to reveal his surname.
Despite the big money, the trend has its opposers. “I can’t ever be a surrogate mother... carrying a baby for nine months and then giving it away is heart-wrenching,” says BPO employee Anu Chawla. Writer Seema Sharma, however, is all for it. “You help and earn,” she says.
Shown on screen
Bollywood too has made movies on commercial surrogacy. Doosri Dulhan (1983) saw Shabana Azmi, a prostitute, play surrogate mother for money. The 2001 film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, which had Salman Khan , Rani Mukherji and Preity Zinta, too, dealt with the same subject.