A gay couple are trapped in Thailand and locked in a custody fight with their surrogate mother who is trying to keep the child.
Gordan Lake, and American, and Manuel Valero, his Spanish husband, have been living in hiding and unable to leave the country with Carmen, the baby girl, for just over a year because their Thai surrogate mother won’t sign the documents allowing the infant to obtain a passport.
The legal row began after the surrogate mother said she wanted to keep the child when she found out the couple were gay. But Mr Lake said he’d made it clear with the surrogacy agency that he was in a gay relationship.
Mr Lake is Carmen’s biological father, while the egg came from an anonymous donor and not from the surrogate.
Speaking outside Bangkok’s Juvenile and Family Court, Gordan said that he and his husband were always the intended parents.
“It’s the day we’ve been waiting for – for a long, long time. Today is one of the most important days of our lives,” Mr Lake told The Telegraph.
“The Court should give us custody of Carmen because it’s the right thing to do.”
The couple have raised over $36,000 on crowdfunding platform Fundly to pay legal costs.
The case is complicated not only by the fact that same-sex marriages are not recognised in Thailand but also by a new law banning commercial surrogacy, which took effect after baby Carmen’s birth.
Thai law also recognises the woman who gives birth to a child as the child’s legal mother, making it impossible for the gay couple to leave the country with the baby without the surrogate’s consent.
The couple’s lawyer, Rachapol Sirikulchit, told The Telegraph: “Baby Carmen has the right to be with her biological father, who supports her financially and has cared for her since she was born. The priority is to consider the benefit for children and that they have the right to live with their biological parent.”