India has offered to extend the visa of a British couple that was being forced to leave behind their baby born through a surrogate in the country – the United Kingdom is yet to provide a passport for the infant and the couple’s Indian visas are expiring. Commercial surrogacy is banned in Britain.
Chris and Michele Newman had applied for Lily’s passport on June 3. However, they are yet to receive it, and their visa expires on October 7. After not having heard from the UK Home Office for months, the Newmans had not choice but to start looking for an orphanage in Mumbai, where they have been staying. “I did have to do something no father had to – I was pacing around at 3 am, looking at orphanages in the middle of Mumbai,” Chris Newman said. The couple hails from Epsom in Surrey, reported The Telegraph.
The UK Home Office has said, “The welfare of children is paramount in surrogacy cases. HM Passport Office needs to ensure that the child has a claim to British nationality, that surrogacy laws are adhered to, and that the child’s best interests are protected.”
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took up the issue and offered help to the couple, besides posing some hard questions on Twitter. “Commercial surrogacy is banned in Britain. Will British government give a British passport to this surrogate baby?” she asked in a tweet. “Should orphanage be the destination of a surrogate baby?” another tweet read.
Lily was one of the last babies born through commercial surrogacy in India after the Indian government introduced restrictions against the practice for foreign nationals in November 2015. On August 24, the National Democratic Alliance government cleared a draft Bill on surrogacy, which aims to impose a “complete ban” on it.