We are thrilled to announce success in our campaign to end the discrimination against single parents in UK surrogacy law. In November 2017, the government sent to Parliament a remedial order (a special fast-track route to changing the law) to change the law to enable single parents, as well as couples, to apply for parental orders if they have a child through surrogacy.
At the moment, it looks like single parents will be able to apply for parental orders from October 2018 at the earliest (see this useful Parliamentary document as at 5 February 2018, although please note that since then drafting issues raised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights have meant that the window of opportunity for passing the remedial order by July, as originally intended, has now been missed) . The rules will be retrospective so that single parents with existing children can apply, but they will only have a six month window when the law changes to do so.
Our sister organisation NGA Law challenged the law under the Human Rights Act, representing a single father through US surrogacy who won a ruling from the President of the High Court Family Division that (in denying the father the ability to apply for a parental order) the current law discriminated unfairly against him and his child. Declarations of incompatibility with the Human Rights Act are very rare, and almost always lead to the law being changed. The remedial order sent to Parliament is a direct response to this court ruling, and aims to remedy the incompatibility with human rights identified in the case.
Single parents who conceive through surrogacy have long been discriminated against by the law, and denied the legal solution of a parental order which is available to couples who have a child through surrogacy.
Having worked with many single parents through surrogacy, we have been campaigning for years for law reform. In 2008, Natalie drafted an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which would have opened parental order applications to single applicants as well as married and unmarried couples. It was debated and rejected, government policy at the time being that surrogacy was such a serious undertaking that it should be embarked upon only by couples.
We are delighted that the government has finally changed that view, conceding that the law discriminates without justification.