Baby Gammy granted Australian citizenship

THE baby at the centre of Thailand's surrogacy scandal who brought international attention to Bunbury has been granted Australian citizenship.

Twelve-month-old baby Gammy, who was born with Down syndrome, will now be eligible for Australian services such as health care.

He will also be eligible to apply for an Australian passport.

Gammy, who was also born with a heart condition, was abandoned by his Bunbury biological parents David and Wendy Farnell last year, prompting Thai authorities to shut down the country's then booming surrogacy industry.

The case of Baby Gammy made international headlines and triggered a government crackdown of the Thai surrogacy business.

The baby's surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua said she applied for Australian citizenship because she wanted to safeguard Gammy's future, not because she wanted to travel to Australia.

But there are not expected to be any restrictions on Ms Pattaramon travelling to Australia with Gammy.

Mr and Mrs Farnell have been allowed by Western Australian authorities to keep Gammy's twin sister Pipah, with strict conditions, despite Mr Farnell's previous convictions for child sex offences.

Gammy was automatically eligible to become an Australian citizen because Mr Farnell's sperm was used, making him the biological parent.

Ms Pattaramon bitterly criticised the Farnells after they left Thailand with Pipah, saying she was still owed money by the Bunbury couple.

However, Mr and Mrs Farnell said Ms Pattaramon had misled the world over the situation and in a statement to the Bunbury Mail through a family friend, they said the allegations that they abandoned baby Gammy were lies.

Gammy was critically unwell at the time.

When Fairfax Media revealed Gammy's plight people around the world rushed to donate more than $240,000.

The money is managed by the Australian charity Hands Across the Water which recently provided a new house for Ms Pattaramon's family in Chonburi, 90 kilometres south of Bangkok.

Gammy turned one on December 23 last year.

He has been regularly visiting a Thai hospital with his bills paid by donated money through Hands Across the Water.

Legislation has been drafted by Thailand's military junta that will ban surrogacy except involving family members with penalties of up to 10 years jail for violators of the law.

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