August 12, 2020


Summary of a panel presentation given on 9 August 2020 at the Object UK webinar on surrogacy.


  • I’ve been a gay rights activist for the past 40 years or so. I don’t buy into the Credo of the appalling homophobic, misogynistic LGBTQIA+ movement – the Absurd Alphabet Alliance.
  • Two particularly harmful LGBT+ campaigns are its championing of surrogacy and of extreme gender ideology.
  • The moves to liberalise surrogacy arrangements seem to be significantly driven by the concept of “fertility equality” for gay men. This is a serious mistake.
  • I strongly support gay parenting, via adoption (or Permanent Care arrangements of the kind that exist in some Australian states), or via fostering. But I oppose all forms of surrogacy, for all people, gay and straight, because of the harm it causes to women and children.
  • It is also particularly damaging to the struggle for gay rights in oppressive, homophobic countries abroad, for surrogacy to be promoted under a gay rights banner, as it increasingly is today by the LGBT+ lobby.
  • There is the risk of a future backlash against the UK gay community as a result of surrogacy (and other harmful measures) being promoted under a gay rights banner: a backlash that could spread across the West, and across the globe.
  • Lady Hale’s Supreme Court Judgment on 1 April 2020 indicates that the expectation gay men should have a right to have children via surrogacy (referred to sometimes as “fertility equality”) is becoming a driving force in the justification of surrogacy and the reform of surrogacy law.
  • The Supreme Court judgment was extraordinary. It upheld a claim of over £500,000 against the UK taxpayer-funded National Health Service to finance four commercial surrogacy pregnancies in California. The claimant had already been awarded over £500,000 for harm caused by clinical negligence. The additional £500,000 was specifically to finance four commercial surrogacy pregnancies abroad, because the claimant said she wanted to have four children.
  • Yet commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK. So the Supreme Court upheld an award for someone to pay for something abroad that is banned in the UK as UK lawmakers regard it as too unethical to legalise.
  • Lady Hale’s outrageous Judgment has largely flown under the radar in the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
  • The award made by the Supreme Court was contrary to public policy in the view of the two dissenting judges.
  • In the Judgment, justification was sought by referring to commercial surrogacy as a route for gay men to have children.
  • Those activists who claim to speak for the LGBT+ community have views divorced from very many mainstream lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people.
  • There is significant opposition to surrogacy among many LGB people. The pretended rights of wealthy gay men cannot be used as a reason to liberalise surrogacy law in the UK at the expense of women and children.
  • Almost all my own gay male friends oppose surrogacy. But in many cases, where gay men and surrogacy are concerned, there is a staggering degree of indifference towards the dangers posed to women and children by surrogacy.
  • People who oppose surrogacy are misrepresented in the LGBT media as simply trying to stop gay men having children, with our rationale and evidence hardly ever presented. We are portrayed as having some kind of homophobic agenda.
  • The gay commercial scene does a great deal of harm to young gay men. I’m not talking about gay social networking groups or gay political groups. The harm is caused by the gay commercial sex-meet scene (including the culture on sex-meet apps.)
  • Gay men who have had too much interaction with that commercial scene can develop a profound narcissistic streak, and become hardened towards the needs of others. There is a level of brutality and objectification, instrumentalization of others in the sex-meet scene that is the last thing a young gay man needs when he is working on coming to terms with his sexuality and trying to develop a supportive network.
  • The gay men who largely avoid the commercial gay sex-meet scene tend to turn out very different from many of those whose gay identities and personalities are forged on that scene. It is a meat-market with a hierarchy based on looks, youth and money: profoundly damaging to people’s psyche, sense of self-esteem, and sense of moral responsibility to others.
  • Unfortunately, we see too much of this hardness towards the needs of others, this narcissism, in the attitude of many gay men towards the exploitation of women and children by the surrogacy industry. Many gay men, however, develop very serious reservations about surrogacy once they have access to information about it.
  • There is no absolute right to be a parent. Even if it were a right, it could not be asserted at the expense of other people’s and other groups’ rights.
  • Who specifically in the UK gay community will benefit from easier access to commercial surrogacy abroad?
  • Commercial surrogacy is the only pretended “gay right” that can benefit only the wealthy members of the gay community.
  • Commercial surrogacy in the USA often involves six-figure sums. Even so-called altruistic surrogacy in the UK can involve almost £40,000 in costs. Only a wealthy gay male elite can benefit from the liberalisation and facilitation of commercial surrogacy. There is no other pretended “gay right” that falls into such a category.
  • Big Fertility, a multi-billion-dollar global industry, is happy to ride on the coat-tails of the LGBT+ movements clamouring for commercial surrogacy rights in order to achieve its financial aims.
  • How has the brave historical political LGB movement morphed into the intolerant, dogmatic, bullying, narcissistic LGBTQIA+ movement that we see today – the movement that is championing surrogacy and gender extremism, among other damaging enterprises?
  • The political LGB movement had always, until recently, had a culture characterised by solidarity, compassion and open debate: very different from the commercial gay sex-meet scene.
  • However, the modern LGBT+ movement is something very different from what we were used to in gay politics. It is as though the narcissistic, callous values of the commercial gay male sex-meet scene have colonised the political gay rights movement as well.
  • Today’s political platform of the LGBT+ movement has been determined by powerful gay rights charities looking for new causes to campaign for since legal equality for LGB people in the West was achieved.
  • Stonewall (The UK’s most prominent LGBT+ charity, which now focuses obsessively on gender ideology) has a turnover of over £8 million. Its CEO earns a six-figure sum. Without new victimhood issues to campaign for at home, the funding of gay rights charities would have risked drying up.
  • The gay rights charities could have turned their focus to helping LGB people abroad. There are so many countries where LGB people are still appallingly oppressed. Yet helping LGB people abroad may not be as good for turnover as creating new victim issues at home.
  • As a result, we see LGBT+ charities and organisations championing the causes of extreme gender ideology and surrogacy, as well as other highly questionable campaigns.
  • Gender ideology has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Yet western gay rights charities adopted gender ideology as a cause about five years ago, after taking not the slightest bit of interest in that issue until around 2015. Stonewall is now primarily a gender identity campaigning organisation.
  • Another issue that is being adopted as a central campaigning prong is surrogacy, with the claim that it is a gay rights issue.
  • The media takes very little interest in the plight of women who have had terrible experiences as a result of offering surrogacy services or egg donation services.
  • There is little exposure in the western media of the harm caused to women and children by surrogacy: presumably because such information contradicts the “happy families for gay men” narrative, and questioning something that is presented as a “gay right” will unavoidably attract accusations of “homophobia”.
  • However, as surrogacy burgeons, more and more accounts of harm and abuse will eventually force their way into public consciousness. The recent case of the dozens of stranded babies in Ukraine because of the Covid lockdown is an example of this.
  • LGB people in highly repressive homophobic countries abroad are already experiencing the backlash that is resulting from the overreach of the western LGBT+ campaigns.
  • So long as western LGBT+ activists get what they want, they don’t seem to care much what happens to LGB people abroad. Wealthy gay men being prevented from buying a gestated baby in California attracts greater protest and outrage than executed gay men swinging from cranes in Iran.
  • The governments of repressive homophobic states are using the excesses of the LGBT+ campaigns in the West – including the demands for surrogacy and gender extremism – as an excuse for opposing even moderate demands from gay and lesbian people for civil liberties, such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
  • It is an appalling burden on gay and lesbian people, both here and abroad, to have our reputation, and the reputation of our political cause, associated with such a harmful and exploitative movement as the surrogacy liberalisation movement.
  • UK law should be amended to prevent the colonialism of allowing foreign women to suffer the harm and exploitation from surrogacy tourism, from which the law protects British women at home.
  • By facilitating and sanctioning commercial surrogacy abroad, the UK is cushioned from the effects of wealthy British citizens, gay or straight, pursuing commercial surrogacy overseas. All the problems relating to the fallout and the harm are conveniently exported abroad via commercial surrogacy tourism.
  • The extent and depth of institutionalised sexism and misogyny are reflected in the fact that the suffering of women at the hands of the surrogacy industry is treated as though it were peripheral and insignificant. We even find self-described feminists, such as Lady Hale, treating commercial surrogacy abroad as though it can be properly regulated, and as though it were justified in order to provide gay men with babies.
  • Compare commercial surrogacy with the sale of human organs. Human organ sales are forbidden by law worldwide, with the exception of in Iran. People die as a result of not being able to buy a kidney from a poor person who would sell one. No one dies as a result of not being able to buy a gestated baby from a poor woman.
  • Imagine the outrage if Lady Hale had upheld a court award against the NHS to fund a claimant so she could go to Iran and pay a poor person for a kidney that would save her life. Buying kidneys is illegal in the UK because of the obvious risk of exploiting the desperate poor that it involves and encourages. I’m sure the public would be outraged at someone getting taxpayer money for an organ purchase abroad instead. Immoral events do not become less immoral simply because the victims are foreigners abroad.
  • However, look at the change in attitude when it comes to commercial surrogacy, and the poor person being exploited abroad is instead potentially an economically desperate woman.
  • Some wealthy gay men, together with the multi-billion-dollar Big Fertility industry that wants their money, don’t like to hear the word “NO”. It is time to say “NO” to them, and to all people who think they have a right and entitlement to instrumentalise financially vulnerable women.

Gary Powell

Gary Powell is the European Special Consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, California. He is a longstanding UK gay rights campaigner and strongly opposes the modern western LGBT+ movement for its adoption of extreme gender ideology and other harmful causes, its failure to represent the interests of the mainstream LGB community, and for its lack of respect for the rights of other people and other groups. He studied Philosophy under the tutorship of Baroness Mary Warnock, the specialist in reproductive ethics whose Inquiry led to the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 and the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. He is an original signatory of the Stop Surrogacy Now Statement and argues for a ban on all forms of surrogacy for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.


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© Gary Powell 2020