You expect a country like the UK to be progressive with its laws when it comes to surrogacy for gay men, but the truth is far from it. Apparently, the woman who gives birth is recognized as the legitimate mother, and gay dads have to apply for paternity—even if one of them is the biological father. We turned to Michael Johnson-Ellis, co-founder of Two Dads UK, to understand UK surrogacy laws a little better.


British surrogacy legislation is not well-developed, which makes it difficult even for citizens of the country to use the service. No surrogate agreement, even drawn up in accordance with all the rules, has legal force and cannot be enforced. Here are three shocking revelations from a recent article on Surrogacy in the UK:

  1. The woman who gives birth (in our case, the surrogate) is recognized as the legitimate mother, and her partner is a legitimate father.
  2. The gay man who is biologically related to the child has to apply for paternity in order to be the legitimate parent of the child – and it’s up to the courts to decide.
  3. The United Kingdom doesn’t recognize any child documents issued in other countries.

“Surrogacy in the UK is underpinned by Legislation of the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985,” explain Michael Johnson-Ellis, founder Two Dads UK and co-founder of The Modern Family Show, the UK’s only LGBTQ Family Building expo. “Whilst the legislation has been updated it still requires further update. Finally, law in the UK with regard to surrogacy is being reformed. Last year the law commissioners for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had a massive rollout of a new consultation process for what this new law proposes. So the law is changing, but the current legislation states that the surrogate is the legal parent at point of birth. And intended parents have to apply for what’s known as a Parental Order through the family courts to be recognized as the legal parent.”

Watch our full Zoom interview with Michael Johnson-Ellis below.

Michael and husband Wes are launching their own not-for-profit UK Surrogacy agency coming Winter 2020.  The Modern Family Show takes place March 20th 2021. Follow Two Dads UK on Instagram and Facebook.