Legalities of Surrogacy in UAE

14 Mar 2022

Before, when a couple could not have children, adoption was the only solution to be parents. Nevertheless, nowadays, with the development of technologies, we can find surrogate mothers with legal frameworks.

Surrogacy is when a person or a couple nominates another woman to give birth to a child on their behalf. Situations such as pregnancy risks, infertility, or medical reasons can carry to use a surrogate mother. 

Between 1985-1986 a woman brought the first successful gestational surrogate pregnancy in the USA. In 1986, “Baby M” was born in the USA, and Mary Beth refused to give up custody of baby M to the couple with whom she ended the surrogacy agreement. The Court found it in the baby’s best interest to grant control of baby M to the infant’s biological father, William Stern, and his wife Elizabeth Stern, rather than to Mary Beth, the substitute mother.

There are two types of surrogacy

  1.  Traditional surrogacy: the substitute mother’s ovule is used, making her the genetic mother.
  2. Gestational surrogacy: the intended mother or donor provides the ovule, and the egg is inseminated through in vitro fertilization and then placed in the substitute mother. Another way is that the embryo is formed using the intended father’s sperm and the intender mother’s ovule.

Concerning the UAE’s laws, surrogacy agreements do not exist. As per article 356 of the Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 on the issuance of the Penal Code, a surrogacy agreement can be managed as a criminal offence. The wife can reach out to family lawyers to file a complaint about forcing her to sign the surrogacy agreement. Indeed, article 356 talks about the crime of indecent assault but a surrogacy agreement can be considered indecent assault that can be punished by detention for at least one (1) year.

Under Islamic Law, some Muslims claim that surrogate motherhood is not permitted because it is akin to Zina (adultery), which is prohibited in the Muslim religion. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate carries the fertilized eggs of someone who is not her legal husband.

Allah stated in the Quran, “Those who guard their private parts except their spouses…” “Whosoever goes beyond that are indeed transgressors.

In 2019, it was a case about an Indian couple (living in the UAE) married for fifteen (15) years that had been incapable of conceiving. The husband traveled to India to do a surrogacy process without the consent of his wife. When the woman realized this, she sought the divorce, and the husband told her that he would agree to divorce if she signed an agreement form for the surrogacy procedure (it means, sign a contract under duress). Dubai’s Personal Status Court ordered the transfer of the child to a DNA test, but her father was unsuccessful in following the instruction, after which the Court ruled in favour of the woman. According to the Court’s judgment, “surrogacy was ruled forbidden according to UAE’s Islamic principles, which are part of the country’s laws and public morals.”

Considering the illegality of this type of agreement, the best way to pursue surrogacy is to return to or visit a country where surrogacy is allowed. Countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India permit surrogacy, but countries such as France prohibited this practice.