Baby at the centre of surrogacy scandal in Thailand gets Australian citizenship

The baby who was at the centre of a surrogacy scandal in Thailand has been granted Australian citizenship, it was reported.

Baby Gammy, born with Down syndrome to a surrogate mother in Thailand, was reportedly left behind by his Australian parents who brought his healthy twin sister Pipah home.

The couple, Wendy and David Farnell, had however denied that they abandoned Baby Gammy.

The surrogate mother, 21-year-old Pattaramon Chanbua, said she applied for Australian citizenship for Gammy because she wanted to safeguard his future, not because she wanted to travel to Australia, ABC News reported.

Gammy, who turned one on Dec 23 last year, is now also eligible for an Australian passport, although that is a separate process that has not begun, said the report.

It is unclear whether he could also be eligible for Australian welfare benefits.

Besides Down's syndrome, Gammy also has a congenital heart condition.

Gammy and his adopted family recently moved into a new home in Chonburi, 90 kilometres south of Bangkok, which was purchased from donated fund, ABC News reported. More than A$240,000 (S$262,798) was raised after Baby Gammy's plight became public.

The case triggered discussion in Australia about laws and regulations surrounding international surrogacy arrangements. The Department for Child Protection began proceedings in the Family Court after it was revealed that David Farnell, 56, had 22 child sex convictions, including indecent dealing with young girls.

The Farnell family retained custody of Pipah, subject to strict court conditions.

The case involving Gammy is not Thailand's first surrogacy-related scandals. Last year, Thai authorities acting on a tip-off raided a Bangkok apartment where they found nine babies. All were being cared for by nannies, and all had the same father, 24-year-old Japanese Mitsutoki Shigeta, who reportedly planned on having dozens more children through surrogacy.

Police said he had fathered at least 16 babies, and taken three out of the country.

In 2011, 15 Vietnamese women were rescued from a house in a Bangkok suburb. Seven of them were pregnant, and two had just given birth, the work of a Taiwanese surrogacy firm called Babe 101 Eugenic Surrogate.

Its staff reportedly seized the women's passports after they arrived in Thailand.