The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is suggesting that single women and men be allowed to have babies through in-vitro fertilization.
The suggestion is contained in the guidelines formulated by the ICMR to regulate infertility clinics in the country.
The move is seen as an acknowledgement of lesbian and gay rights, a radical gesture in a largely conservative society. Under Indian laws, homosexuality is a crime, and it will be interesting to see how the contradiction between the Indian Penal Code and the new guidelines will be resolved.
Dr Kamini Rao, an expert on the team that drafted the document, told Times of India that homosexual relationships were "a reality," which Indian society would have to cope with.
"It'll help people like young widows and widowers who're childless. We need to see this provision from a holistic angle," Rao said and revealed a lot of debate took place among the drafting commitee members on the issue.
"It would now be put in the public domain for a month to elicit views from the public. From there, it'll go to Parliament,'' Rao said.
The draft guidelines are currently with the department of Health and would soon be submitted to the Law ministry. Following this, a bill to regulate infertility clinics would be presented before Parliament for enactment.
Homosexual relationships are an evolving area in the country, said Kamini Rao who is also the medical director of the Bangalore Assisted Conception Centre, in southern India.
Rao stressed, "No one can turn a blind eye to this reality and wisdom lies in appropriately responding to changing situations.''
As to apprehensions that a child raised by homosexual parents might not have a normal childhood, she reacted, arguing, "I think it's wrong to have such views in this modern age. Now, take the case of a child who lives with heterosexual parents, where the father retards his psychology by indulging in ugly drunken domestic brawls day in and day out. Will this child have a normal childhood?"
The founder-director of 'Sahodaran', Sunil Menon, who works among the gay community, welcomed the ICMR initiative.
"It's a welcome sign. Those who can afford will definitely go in for children using ART procedure. Hopefully, the initiative will lead to the recognition of homosexual status in the country,'' he said.
Federal government's Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the Supreme Court Wednesday that rules to regulate infertility clinics would be in place soon.
While eventually a law will be enacted, in the meantime some guidelines would be in force.
He said that the government was deeply concerned over the unregulated mushrooming of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) clinics in the country.
He was making a submission during the hearing of a petition filed by a couple who had undergone some bitter moments in a clinic.
The wife did become pregnant after administration of Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection, but her condition became serious and pregnancy had to be terminated.
The couple argue that lack of regulations had led to a free-for-all situation wherein the public became victims and the clinic operators had no accountability.