New Delhi: LGBT activists have expressed disappointment at the exclusion of homosexuals from being beneficiaries of surrogacy, as mentioned in the proposed surrogacy law cleared by the Union cabinet on Wednesday.
The bill, if passed, would not allow live-in partners, bachelors, single parents and homosexuals to become parents through surrogacy.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's remark that homosexuality is "against our ethos", which she made when asked about the rights of homosexuals to use surrogacy, also met with disapproval.
"This comes from a very strait-jacketed patriarchal heteronormative understanding of a family. Our legislation needs to be more evolved," said Aakriti Kohli, a Delhi University professor who made a documentary on LGBTs "In the mood for Love.”
"The use of the word 'ethos' is disturbing, vague and arbitrary and frankly discriminating. She also mentions celebrities and prior parents who shouldn't be allowed to use surrogacy as it is a 'hobby' for them. This is a very reductive and crass way to discuss this," Aakriti said.
Himadri Roy, professor of Gender studies and Development at IGNOU, said the right to obtain a child for same-sex couples is a far-fetched dream since they are not even entitled to basic freedom.
"That 'ethos' comment may be her personal stand, but as far as surrogacy is concerned there are many things which are needed to be done, like abolition of Section 377 (which criminalises gay sex)... When you don't even accord legitimacy to their relationship, how can you grant them surrogacy or even adoption rights?" said Roy, who featured in Kohli's film and has been part of Gay Pride parades.
"There is still a lot to be done," Roy added.
"As far as parenting is concerned, same-sex couples can be just as good or bad parents as heterosexual couples. It depends on individuals," Roy said.
LGBT activist Gourab Ghosh, a research scholar at Sahapedia, an online resource on the arts, cultures and heritage of India, termed the new bill homophobic.
Ghosh, who too has featured in Kohli's documentary, said: "This government doesn't want to legalise sense of love, sense of union.. even transgenders should be allowed to adopt children or surrogate children.. On the one hand you are encouraging transgenders to go for education, and on the other you are saying that no surrogacy for you, this is hypocritical."