Same-sex parents defiant over appeal, vow to return home

Same-sex parents defiant over appeal, vow to return home

Manuel Santos and Gordon Lake play with their baby, Carmen. The American- Spanish couple is ready to return home with their baby after the Juvenile and Family Court early this week awarded the custody of the girl to her biological American father, Mr Lake. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Manuel Santos and Gordon Lake play with their baby, Carmen. The American- Spanish couple is ready to return home with their baby after the Juvenile and Family Court early this week awarded the custody of the girl to her biological American father, Mr Lake. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

The same-sex Spanish-American couple who on Tuesday won their high-profile custody battle against a surrogate mother who gave birth to their child, Carmen Lake, has shrugged off the possibility of an appeal by the surrogate, saying Carmen will definitely go back home.

Spaniard Manuel Santos, the partner of American, Gordon Lake, who is Carmen's biological father, told a news briefing on Friday that he and his partner will definitely take Carmen back to Spain regardless of whether the surrogate mother appeals.

Mr Santos' remarks came after Bangkok's Juvenile and Family Court ruled that the legal guardian of the 15-month-old child is the girl's American biological father, and that Mr Lake has the right to leave Thailand with her.

The custody battle started when the surrogate mother who gave birth to their child refused to sign the documents to allow Carmen to get a passport and decided to keep the baby with her after she found out that the couple were gay.

"She [Ms Patidta Kusolsang, the surrogate mother] can appeal, but I hope this is enough. It is time for Carmen to reunite with her family," said Mr Santos.

"Ms Patidta already has her own daughter to take care of. Even if she has the right to appeal, I do not think she will," he said, adding that he and Mr Lake cut off contact with her when the court battle began in January 2015.

The couple is planning to take Carmen with them to Spain where they live as soon as possible. However, they are not able to do so right away as a number of documents need to be signed by judges to allow Carmen to obtain a passport and leave the country with them.

"It could take three days or maybe a week, I do not know," Mr Santos said. Mr Santos also blamed Ms Patidta for causing problems for his family over the past 15 months.

"We had a very hard time. All of our savings were spent on the legal battle. Last year, we could not take Carmen to my grandmother's funeral in Spain because she [surrogate mother] refused to sign the document to allow Carmen to leave the country," he said with tears in eyes.

The couple will have to come back to Bangkok on May 23 when Ms Patidta and her legal adviser, Weeruthai Maneenutnet, are scheduled to testify at the Criminal Court after the couple filed a libel suit against her for accusing them of being part of a human trafficking ring and making the accusation on a Channel 3 TV programme in July last year.

"I am happy the court accepted the suit. I admitted that we both [Mr Santos and Mr Lake] were afraid that Thai society would misunderstand us, that we were traffickers. We are not. We are just normal people who want to have a family," he said.

"The response from Thais was amazing, I am so thankful," Mr Santos said.

Warisara Sornpet, campaign director with Change.org Thailand, said this case has set a good example for Thais in having a greater understanding of gay people's rights in Thailand.


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