Gay couple awaits custody-battle verdict with Thai surrogate

2016-04-26 12:47

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Bangkok – A court in Thailand was to announce its verdict on Tuesday in a high-profile custody battle between a same-sex couple and a Thai surrogate mother who decided she wanted to keep the baby when she found out they were gay.

The case is complicated by the fact that Thai law does not recognise same-sex marriages and also by a new law that bans commercial surrogacy, which took effect after baby Carmen's birth.

The couple – American Gordon Lake and Spaniard Manuel Santos, both 41 – have been stuck in Thailand since launching their legal battle after Carmen was born in January 2015.

Lake is the biological father of baby Carmen, who is now 15 months old, while the egg came from an anonymous donor, not the Thai surrogate, Patidta Kusolsang.

When Carmen was born, Patidta handed over the baby to Lake and Santos, who left the hospital with the infant. But they say Patidta then changed her mind and refused to sign the documents to allow Carmen to get a passport so they could leave Thailand.

Lake and Santos were told she had thought they were an "ordinary family and that she worried for Carmen's upbringing," according to a message Lake posted on a crowdfunding site that has raised $36 000 to help cover the costs of the trial and staying in Thailand.

Lake has said he doesn't know why the surrogate says she didn't know he was gay. He says he was clear about that from the start with their surrogacy agency, called New Life, which has branches in several countries.

The Bangkok-based New Life office has closed since commercial surrogacy was outlawed in Thailand in July 2015, following several high-profile scandals. There was a grace period provided for parents whose babies were already on the way, and Lake says he hopes the judge is sympathetic to them.

Carmen has lived with the couple since her birth.

Read more on:    thailand

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