Two Australian couples with surrogate babies have reportedly been prevented from leaving Thailand amid a crackdown on surrogacy laws.
The Australian government is advising couples involved in surrogacy arrangements to seek legal advice before travelling to Thailand amid reports that two couples have been stopped from leaving the country with their babies.
The same-sex couples were reportedly prevented from leaving Bangkok's international airport on Thursday afternoon after Thai police ordered that no surrogate babies be allowed out of the country without a court order.
Two American couples were also stopped, the ABC has reported.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has updated its travel advice for Thailand, urging couples to seek legal advice before leaving Australia.
“We strongly recommend that Australians visiting Thailand for the purposes of commercial surrogacy arrangements, seek independent legal advice before doing so,” it read.
“... The legal situation regarding surrogacy arrangements in Thailand is currently unclear. There is presently no legislation in Thailand which specifically regulates surrogacy. The Thai authorities are considering draft legislation that may prohibit commercial surrogacy."
DFAT stated the government is encouraging Thai authorities to adopt transitional arrangements for any new measures they may introduce, so that concerned Australians are not unduly affected.
They stated that Thai authorities may enforce enhanced documentation requirements when leaving for Australia if they suspect a child has been born by surrogacy. This may include a court order issued by the Thai Family Juvenile Court to confirm that the birth mother has given up her rights to custody of the child.
The news comes as the South East Asia country looks to overhaul its commercial surrogacy laws following the case of a West Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down syndrome.
Thai surrogate woman, 21-year-old Pattaramon Chanbua, accused the couple of abandoning the boy, known as Gammy, and taking his healthy twin sister back to Australia.
Surrogacy Australia says it knows of up to 200 would-be Australian parents who could be affected by Thailand's planned crackdown, but that the number may be higher.
In a statement posted on the group's Facebook page this morning, Surrogacy Australia said it would not be commenting on changes to Thai surrogacy laws to the media.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last week requested that Thai authorities allow for a "transition period" to allow for Australian couples who had already paid for surrogates to receive their children.
More to come.