A family firm that has campaigned to make surrogacy law more inclusive for a decade has welcomed change in legislation that will allow single parents to apply for parental orders and obtain a UK birth certificate.

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 2008 (Remedial) Order 2018 came into force last week, enabling a sole applicant to apply for a parental order, which transfers legal parenthood after a surrogacy arrangement. Previously, only couples were eligible to apply.

The change has been welcomed by Burgate and London firm Natalie Gamble Associates, whose work to challenge UK surrogacy law on discrimination grounds resulted in the president of the family division declaring in May 2016 that the law was incompatible with human rights principles.

Natalie Gamble

Gamble: single parents were left in legal limbo

The firm's founder, Natalie Gamble, told the Gazette: 'The law has never made it illegal for single parents to conceive through surrogacy, but the fact that parental orders have been unavailable until now has left them and their children in legal limbo, trapped in a black hole where they are caring for their children without formal legal status as parents. 

'The law change means that single mothers and fathers who have children through surrogacy will no longer be discriminated against, and will have the same rights as couples to obtain birth certificates, secure legal parenthood, British nationality for their children and employment rights after their child is born.' 

Existing single parents of children born through surrogacy also have until 2 July to apply for a parental order retrospectively. Gamble's firm says applications beyond the deadline are possible but will be 'more complicated'.