In an age where surrogacy is becoming a boon for couples having trouble conceiving and for those who want to enjoy parenthood, celebrities like Karan Johar opting for it is only helping it gain more acceptance.
While Bollywood beams with happiness at the director’s decision, we explore what the LGBT community thinks of his choice, what it means to be a single parent in that context, and the legality of it.
Being single and opting for surrogacy isn’t necessarily problematic. “Unlike many young couples who are pressured by their parents to have kids, when individuals (homosexual or heterosexual) opt for surrogacy or adoption, it is of their own will and time. They aren’t under pressure as they are taking on the responsibility voluntarily and will be even more sensitive to the child’s upbringing,” says Bengaluru-based psychotherapist Tasneem Nakhoda.
An obvious worry might be of kids of homosexuals or single parents being bullied, but Tasneem notes that modern schools are now aware of the concept and have strict guidelines against bullying.
“Further, the parents should build confidence in the child, while teaching them how to handle instances where they may be teased,” she says.
For the LGBT community, it marks a step in the right direction. “Karan Johar being able to surrogate two kids is good news for the community. It’s not often that someone who identifies as one of us (even if not so openly) gets to start a family. While the perfect situation would have been for a two-parent family, we’re sure Johar has enough people around who will step into the role of a second or even that of a third parent,” says Romal Laisram, co-founder and director at Queer Arts Movement – India, who hopes Karan brings up baby Yash and Roohi to be amazing human beings, above all.
The legality of surrogacy procedures and whether or not individuals and homosexuals can surrogate kids has come into focus too. “As of today, there is no definitive legislation on surrogacy in India, but two draft bills have been introduced in 2010 and 2016 on this issue. If passed, the draft legislation will have many implications on the surrogacy industry — only hetronormative couples may apply, couples must be married and a ban on commercial surrogacy practice totally, for instance,” says Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu, an advocate with the Alternative Law Forum based in Bengaluru. “If passed, the bill will prove to be challenging for single male or single female intended parents. These provisions by default will exclude same sex couples because same sex marriages/unions are not recognised in India. A far more serious reality is that section 377, which criminalises homosexuality, remains at large,” she adds.
Ramya also notes that there is no commentary on the sexual orientation of those opting for surrogacy as yet, it’s a service and the difficulty or ease of it, is based on the financial capability of the said individuals.
“To be brutal, in my head, surrogacy is an ego trip. There are too many children in India that should be adopted. This hire-a-womb is not my thing. But I don’t hold it against those who opt for it,” says Wendell Rodricks.
The fashion designer who is openly homosexual, married to Jerome Marrel, finds it personally problematic to resort to adopt or surrogate at his age. “I do not want to leave behind orphaned teenagers or kids in their 20s. I am glad I have a partner who told me flat out when I was thinking of adopting, ‘That child will be spoilt rotten. From day one she will be in Wendell couture with a Dior feeding bottle. At school, she will be teased for having gay g***u fathers. She will be bashed, slammed and shamed for having uncles and aunties who are in fashion or film. She will be a spoilt brat as she will walk a ramp at age four. So forget it. Let us work for the children of our village and state. Or children of parents with AIDS, children born to battered women, physically challenged children. Offer scholarships to the persevering, the underprivileged and truly needy’. I took his advice. And I’m eternally happy. Just as those who resort to surrogacy are,” he says, adding, “Everyone deserves happiness and it takes all types. I don’t want to judge others. I can only judge myself and my decisions. Karan Johar has made a decision and we should not judge his decision. As for the LGBTQ community, let us focus on Section 377 being amended so that future generations of LGBTQ children have the freedom to live a wholesome, non-judgmental life in this great country,” he says, in conclusion....