Couple Stranded in Thailand Wins Custody Case

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Couple Stranded in Thailand Wins Custody Case

The judgment is in. Gordon Lake and his husband, Manuel Santos, who have been involved in an emotionally charged, high-profile custody battle with their Thai surrogate, have won. The fathers, who have been stranded in Thailand for more than a year with their baby girl, can finally return home to Spain.

Gordon “Bud” Lake and his husband are unable to take their daughter, Carmen Santos Lake, third from left, out of Thailand because her surrogate mother objects to the fact she will be raised by a same-sex couple. (Photo courtesy of Gordon Lake)

Gordon “Bud” Lake and his husband are finally able to take their daughter, Carmen Santos Lake, third from left, out of Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Gordon Lake)

Many viewed the plight of Lake and Santos over the past 15 months as a glaring human rights violation. It certainly was.

Lake and Santos thought all was going smoothly with their surrogacy journey. They left the hospital with their daughter, Carmen, thinking they’d soon be on their way home. They then learned that their surrogate, Patidta Kusolang, would not sign the paperwork necessary to allow them to obtain a passport for Carmen because they were a gay couple.

Kusolsang had no biological ties to the baby. Lake, 41, was the baby’s genetic father, and the couple had used an anonymous egg donor.

The BBC reported, “Mr. Lake and Mr. Santos were informed that Ms. Kusolsang had assumed the child was being looked after by an ‘ordinary family’ and that she worried about the child’s upbringing.”

Lake and Santos’ human rights dilemma sparked a global outcry, especially since their baby was born before Thailand banned commercial surrogacy last year. Making matters even more legally tenuous, Thailand does not acknowledge gay marriage.

According to the BBC, Bangkok’s Family Court ruled that Carmen’s only legal guardian is Lake, who was born in the United States. His spouse, Santos, 41, is from Spain where the family lives.

The couple made more headlines last week when the criminal courts of Bangkok accepted the defamation suit they filed against Kusolsang and her legal advisor, Weeruthai Maneenutnet in relation to the surrogacy matter. According to reports, testimony is slated for May 23.

The Bangkok Post reports that the lawsuit, “…alleges that Ms. Patidta and Ms. Weeruthai gave an interview on a Channel 3 TV show which aired on July 21 and 22 accusing American Gordon Lake and his Spanish husband Manuel Valero [Santos] of being part of a human trafficking network.” The article goes on to say, “The surrogate and her legal aide face defamation charges under Sections 326 and 328 of the Criminal Code and Section 14 (1) of the Computer Crimes Act which deals with ‘false data’ that damages a third party.”

The Bangkok Post explained how Sections 326 and 328 can carry prison terms for up two years, as well as financial penalties.

“The court said there was prima facie evidence of the defendants committing criminal defamation but dropped the charge of violating the computer crimes act because of lack of evidence,” the article cites.

Following the court’s decision, Lake and Santos plan to leave Thailand for Spain, where the couple resides and where they can finally make a home.