Twins of Thai surrogate given Australian citizenship

A QUEENSLAND couple face the prospect of jail despite winning legal permission to parent 18-month-old twins conceived by a surrogate mother in Thailand.

In a challenge to the state’s controversial surrogacy laws, the twins have been granted Australian citizenship.

But in a cruel twist, the couple now face an anxious wait before they know whether they will be charged under state laws for illegally entering into a commercial overseas surrogacy agreement with the factory worker.

In a decision handed down by Family Court Judge Judy Ryan yesterday, the couple was awarded equal shared parental responsibility of the twin boy and girl who are being raised in Queensland.

The twins, who were born in January last year, were conceived with a donor egg in a Thai IVF clinic in 2010 after the Queensland woman was unable to conceive following cancer treatment.

Her husband, who has two adult children from a previous marriage, gave his own sperm to fertilise the donor eggs which were carried by the Thai surrogate.

In her judgment, Justice Ryan revealed that the egg donor was unknown and that the surrogate mother, who was paid $7350 by the couple, did not wish to have parenting rights.

Under the Surrogate Parenthood Act1988 inQueensland, the couple is liable to prosecution and potential jail for three years.

But in a significant sign of support, Justice Ryan had granted them indemnity from prosecution, ruling their evidence could not be used in any criminal proceedings against them.

„Of course, imprisonment of the (couple) would see two much-loved children inexplicably separated from the only people they have known as parents,” Justice Ryan said.

„The potential for long-term psychological and emotional harm to the children were such an event to come to pass is obvious.”

The Queensland Government is on track to ban surrogacy for same-sex couples, singles and couples in de facto relationships for less than two years.

Currently in Queensland, altruistic surrogacy, where a couple does not pay for a surrogate mother to carry their child, is legal and couples can apply to the Supreme Court for a parenting declaration.

International commercial surrogacy remains illegal and the only way to get a parenting declaration is to go to the Family Court and seek it through Commonwealth laws.

Friday, August 3, 2012 –