Hoorah for NGA client Yotam Ottolenghi and his wonderfully heartfelt piece in Saturday’s Guardian: ‘Why I’m coming out as a gay father’. In a brave and personal editorial, the renowned TV chef and restarauter has spoken out about his long journey to fatherhood as a gay man, and how becoming a father has enabled him to reconcile himself to a new openness about his sexuality. He says:
“At the end of a five-year process, I know we can’t be shy about telling our story, that privacy just isn’t an option. That’s because we could only have had Max, and hopefully also a future sibling, thanks to other people who have shared their stories. Max has already brought us immense joy. He has also forced our second coming out, this time as gay parents.”
We salute his bravery in coming out to the world about such incredibly personal issues. We have been privileged to share his journey (as his legal advisors), which has taken him through the option of co-parenting to international surrogacy and the birth of his son Max earlier this year. We know it takes brave men like Yotam willing to talk about their experience to inspire others that it can be done, and to enable them to feel comfortable about their choices.
The good news, from a legal perspective, is that the options for gay men to become fathers have never been better than they are now.
Since 2010, gay men who conceive with a surrogate mother have been able to apply to the family court for a parental order. This ultimately gives them a UK birth certificate naming them both as parents. It is a legal solution for gay dads who conceive through surrogacy in the UK and abroad, and it fully resolves all the UK legal issues. Surrogacy in the UK is often more achievable than people realise, but many gay dads, like Yotam, are also going to the US where a more professional and managed surrogacy service is available. There has developed a significant track record over the past five years of the UK High Court authorising such arrangements (even though they involve commercial surrogacy arrangements), case law which we have been proud to have helped shape.
Since 2005, gay men have been able to adopt as couples, with just the same rights as heterosexual couples. They have full and equal parental status and an adoption certificate to confirm it. And there is the option of co-parenting. Here the law is more complex, and in particular gay couples who donate sperm to lesbian couples may have no legal status as parents if the birth mother is in a civil partnership. But these arrangements work too, and there are legal solutions available.
The climate has never been better for gay dads to start a family than it is now, and we hope that other gay men will draw courage from Yotam’s story.
Article: 6th August 2013 www.nataliegambleassociates.co.uk