Few countries offer a progressive legal structure when it comes to gestational surrogacy agreements. This is particularly true regarding surrogacy arrangements abroad, which often face additional restrictions. Some countries forbid international surrogacy entirely, while others require that any surrogacy agreement be altruistic—meaning that surrogate mothers and egg donors may not be compensated for their efforts, beyond meeting related medical expenses.
The Ukraine is one noteworthy exception to frequent concerns held by couples pursuing affordable surrogacy.
Ukrainian law is friendly to international surrogacy agreements. It refrains from taking such common steps as to require altruistic agreements: there are no restrictions on the compensation provided to surrogate mothers in the Ukraine. No adoption process is required, and no court order is needed to remove a child born to a gestational surrogacy agreement from the country.
Unfortunately, according to Ukrainian law, only married heterosexual couples may take advantage of the country’s otherwise permissive surrogacy policy.
The Ukraine does not recognize gay marriage, and homosexual couples are specifically prohibited by law from engaging in surrogacy agreements within the Ukraine—as are single individuals, or men and women in long-term domestic partnerships that do not take the form of a traditional marriage.
Recent years have seen small gains for LGBT rights in the Ukraine, where—as with most of the former Soviet states—homosexuality was considered a crime until well into the 1990s. Efforts by the newly installed, less traditionally minded Ukrainian government to accommodate the policies of the European Union were seen as a spark of hope by the country’s LGBT community.
EU policies require certain progressive concessions. In order to join in the Union’s visa-free travel agreement, for instance, the Ukrainian government would have to pass legislation protecting the LGBT community from acts of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Such protections, as stipulated by the European Union, exceed the protections in place for the LGBT community in other countries around the world, including the United States.
These protections were actually passed in November 2015, after several failed attempts. However, there are fears that this new legislation—specifically, where it applies to the LGBT community—could soon be rolled back. Majority opinion in the Ukraine is in favor of joining the European Union, but the country is still deeply conservative. Outbreaks of anti-LGBT violence, often carried out with firearms and explosives being used against public protests and gay pride demonstrations, are not uncommon.
Today, the list of countries which offer affordable prices and legal options for international surrogacy agreements looks like a threadbare patchwork quilt lain over a map of the world. Three options which were once considered extremely favorable—the countries of Thailand, Nepal, and India—all acted separately to ban international surrogacy arrangements in 2015.
The US State Department has since warned Americans seeking the services of surrogate mothers abroad to not involve these countries in the process of their surrogacy agreements “at any point,” as there is a very real risk of children born within their borders not being allowed to leave with their intended parents without a formal adoption.
When the continued efforts of the Ukrainian government combine with the voice of the country’s LGBT community, only then can Ukraine begin to see progress towards a more modern society.
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