When couples or single people who wish to have children are not in a position to bear a child themselves, surrogacy can offer a solution. In the Netherlands, commercial surrogacy is forbidden, and only women who do not have a (functioning) uterus, or for whom a pregnancy could be life-threatening, are eligible. There is no provision for gay male couples who desire to have their own biological children. They have to go abroad to pursue the surrogacy route.
Even if it were also permitted for men to use a “womb for rent”, there are other legal problems in the way. In the Netherlands, it is possible for surrogacy to come about as a result of insemination, where the surrogate mother becomes pregnant with her own egg and the sperm of the intended parent. This is not a popular option, as the surrogate mother then has to hand over her own biological child, and it does not happen often. A second, more common possibility, is impregnation with an embryo made from the genetic material of the intended parents. It is not permitted to impregnate a surrogate mother using an embryo made from a donated egg cell. For couples consisting of two men, who do not have their own egg cell, it is impossible to have a child legally in the Netherlands with the assistance of a surrogate mother.
There is an increasing call in the Netherlands to relax these rules. According to those who object, the exclusion of gay men from surrogacy arrangements forces them to go abroad, and that is discrimination. “Nonsense,” says Gary Powell, who is himself gay and a champion of equal rights for the LGBT community. “There is no universal right to be a parent, and it cannot be a universal LGBT right to have children via a surrogate mother. Surrogacy simply reduces women and children to a means to a desired end product.”