European Parliament says surrogacy is a form of human trafficking

MEPs define forced marriage, illegal adoption and surrogacy as forms of exploitation.

Evangelical Focus

STRASBOURG · 24 APRIL 2024 · 18:28 CET

European Parliament. / Photo: <a target="_blank" href="">Lukas S</a>, Unsplash, CC0.,
European Parliament. / Photo: Lukas S, Unsplash, CC0.

The European Parliament has ratified, with 563 votes in favour, seven against and 17 abstentions, its position on surrogacy, which is now officially considered exploitation, and part of human trafficking.

The parliament has therefore ratified the regulation against surrogacy that the European Parliament adopted in October 2023, which included this “new crime” in the European Union's anti-trafficking directive.

It also backs the agreement announced earlier this year by the European Council, which proposed to establish, not only surrogacy, but also forced marriage and illegal adoption as types of exploitation, falling under the definition of human trafficking too.

Human trafficking “is a criminal act that has a high human cost”, said Paul Van Tigchelt, the justice minister of Belgium (the country holding the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union).

“This much-needed update of the directive will better equip Member States to fight this terrible crime in all its forms”, he added.

The resolution carries penalties of up to 5 years for those practices, and up to 10 years if it is considered an aggravated offence.


Surrogacy by coercion or deception

According to the document adopted by the European Parliament, in order for surrogacy to be a crime, it has to occur through coercion or deception of the woman victim to act as a surrogate mother.

Spanish co-rapporteur for the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop (From the Left Group) admitted that “we all had to compromise” on the definition of the text, and “today we are a little closer to putting an end to this barbarity”.

Commenting on the practice of prostitution, she said: “Let the brothels that do not comply with the law take note, there are brothels everywhere. Don't forget, according to this directive, if buyers request sexual services [from people] knowing that they are victims, they are committing a crime”, she added.

According to European Commission data, sexual and labour exploitation are the main targets of human trafficking, although in 2020, forced marriages and illegal adoption accounted for 11% of all victims in the EU.

In addition to prison sentences, the new legislation foresees stronger sanctions against legal persons, who may be excluded from access to public funding.

The agreement means that Member States will also have to make the use of services provided by trafficked persons a criminal offence.

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