Dustin Lance Black leads debate on surrogacy after hater comments

Film director and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black appeared on BBC Five Live Radio and talked impending fatherhood with husband British diver, Tom Daley

The 42-year-old, known as Lance, was being interviewed by Nihal Arthanayake for a special podcast on surrogacy and wanted to appear on the show after receiving a barrage of abuse from people in the UK.

He wanted to ask the specific question ‘what is it about surrogacy that make some in the UK uncomfortable?

The Oscar-winning screenwriter told Nihal he wanted to have an open discussion about his decision with British diver Tom Daley to have a child via surrogate mother in the US.

He said he believed it was do with the ambiguity when it comes to British surrogacy laws and the many misconceptions that surround the world of surrogacy.

Currently in the UK, the surrogate mother, irrespective of whether she has any biological connection to the child, is the legal mother and parental orders need to be applied for.

In the US, the surrogacy laws are such that Intended Parents and surrogate mothers form a legally binding contract through solicitors and generally a surrogacy agency.

The surrogate is also paid a fixed fee in the US, usually in the region of between $30,000 to $50,000 in the UK it is illegal to pay a surrogate mother, but she can be compensated via expenses, which is usually in the region of between £8,000 to £15,000.

He said about surrogacy in the US: “In order for someone to be a surrogate, they have to go through medical and psychological examination, you also have to meet them and fall in love with them and form a relationship with them, that very likely is going to last a lifetime.”

The gay rights activist continued that the surrogate mother is someone that is cared for greatly and in many ways become family.

Lance said the couple would raise their son in the UK and said because of that it would mean they would face ‘real legal challenges’ , which he said was wrong.

He said: “It would be a much easier path if we were to raise our son in the United States. But we love the UK and this country is home to us and Tom is incredibly proud to represent this country. So yes we are going to take the more difficult path in this country.”

He said it was not an easy conversation: “It ought not be held back in this way, the law that needs to be updated.”

Others on the panel included Helen Prosser, co-founder of surrogacy agency, Brilliant Beginnings, parents by surrogate Carolyn, whose sister had her eight-year-old son and Michael, who has two children with his husband, along with surrogate mother Kim Bradshaw.

One caller said to the panel that he believed in surrogacy and did not have an issue with the gay community, but he didn’t feel two men could bring up a child and a mother needed to be in the picture.

He said: “You need the mother to be there. She is the main thing – they are different to us, they are very different, women, how they do things, everything. It’s so, so difficult.”

Lance stayed very calm and collected and said: “I hear what you are saying. There are all sorts of different families out there in the world, for many different reasons – some more tragic than others – children are raised by single parents all the time.”

He assured the listeners that his son would be surrounded by women throughout his life.

He said: “It would be wrong to deprive a child of that, and, frankly, bizarre and probably impossible.”

Helen Prosser said the UK surrogacy journey was a two year process and that there needed to be a deep relationship established and trust between all parties was intrinsic.

She said there was certainly more positivity around surrogacy in the UK, but the reason there is a lack of surrogates in the UK was the vulnerability around the current UK laws.

Helen concluded that the Law Commission was also reviewing surrogacy laws and the government had recently produced a surrogacy guideline, the first of its kind in the UK.

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