BANGKOK (AFP) - A foreign same-sex couple on Monday vowed not to leave Thailand without their daughter after a local surrogate mother rescinded permission for them to take the baby she gave birth to.
Gordon Lake, an American, and his Spanish husband, Manuel Valero, say the woman decided not to let them leave the kingdom with their daughter Carmen after she discovered the couple were gay.
The dispute has revived tensions in Thailand over its controversial reputation for once being a thriving international surrogacy hub.
The couple, who have a surrogate son born in India, are currently caring for Carmen in Bangkok, but have not been given the necessary paperwork to leave the country with her.
The woman, who has only been identified by her family nickname "Oy", insists her refusal to sign the release papers has nothing to do with the couple's sexual orientation.
Lake, who lives with his husband in Valencia, Spain, fought back tears in an emotional television interview in which he pleaded with the surrogate mother to change her mind.
"She's our daughter, we'll be here as long as we need to be. We're not leaving Thailand without our daughter," he told Channel 3.
"From the very beginning we've wanted to solve this peacefully. We want her to be involved in her life. We want to sit down and figure out how we solve this situation," he added.
For years Thailand boasted a lucrative - yet largely unregulated - international surrogacy trade which was particularly popular among gay couples.
But in February legislation was passed banning foreigners from using Thai surrogates after a series of high-profile scandals.
The move was spurred by an Australian couple who were accused last spring of abandoning a baby with Down's syndrome carried by a Thai surrogate while taking his healthy twin sister.
A second high profile surrogacy controversy erupted when nine babies fathered by a Japanese man using Thai surrogate mothers were discovered in a Bangkok apartment.
As those scandals broke, Oy was already pregnant with Carmen.
She carried the baby to term and handed her to Lake and Valero, but did not appear for an appointment at the US embassy to sign the final paperwork, leaving the couple stranded.
Speaking anonymously to Channel 3 last week Oy said she had no issue with Lake and Valero being gay.
"But I'm worried about the baby, her future and that she might fall into the hands of human traffickers," she said, without further elaborating on those concerns.
Lake told Channel 3 he and his husband had tried to hold a meeting with Oy on three occasions but she had backed out each time at the last minute.
"We just want to talk to her... and find a way where she'll be comfortable knowing we're good parents and where she'll be comfortable knowing Carmen is in a good family," he said.