Italy’s far-right government is scrubbing gay parents from children’s birth certificates

Milan, the last city in Italy to recognize both same-sex parents on birth certificates, has been told to stop the practice

Italian premier Giorgia Meloni’s far-right government has stripped queer parents of the ability to be legally related to their child. The city of Milan, which was the last remaining major city in Italy to still record queer parents on its municipal birth records, was told by the government to only list the biological parent. 

“This government is the maximum expression of homophobia,’’ Alessia Crocini, president of Italian LGBTQ+ organization Rainbow Families, told the Associated Press. “Meloni says that for a child to grow up well, they need a mother and father, even if decades of research say otherwise. It is insulting to hundreds of thousands of families with two same-sex parents.”

While a number of other municipalities including Rome, Turin and Naples had previously adopted the same practice in the wake of a 2016 high court ruling that made the process of adopting a same-sex partner’s child easier, all have gradually shifted their policies in the years since, as the national government shifted further right.

On the same day as the Milan ruling, a Senate commission in the country also decided to continue not to recognize birth certificates issued to children of same-sex couples in other EU states. 

Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala called for a law formally recognizing the parental rights of gay couples at birth, but said that in the meantime, city workers would comply, rather than defying the government. 

Fabrizio Marrazzo, a spokesperson for Italy’s Gay Party (Partito Gay), an LGBTQ+-rights-focused political group, said in a statement (in Italian) that mayors should be willing to commit civil disobedience against homophobic laws. “When a rule is unjust and discriminatory, those who make politics must have the courage to disobey,” he said.

Without legal recognition, a non-biological parent in a same-sex couple must formally adopt their own child to be recognized as a parent—a process that can take years, according to the AP. In the meantime, they do not have rights such as consenting to medical treatment for the child, or giving permission for school field trips.

It is unclear how the policy works given the many possible variations in queer family planning, such as two people assigned female at birth having a child using the egg of one spouse and the uterus of the other; or two people assigned male at birth deliberately not knowing whose sperm fertilizes an egg in a surrogate pregnancy.

Adopting a non-biologically related child can only be done by married couples—precluding gay Italian couples, who can only obtain civil unions. Surrogacy and IVF within the country are also limited to heterosexual couples only.

The LGBTQ+ community has been concerned about potential rights rollbacks since Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) gained a majority in Parliament last September. LGBTQ+ organizations raised concerns over her history of homophobia and transphobia, including a statement in June 2022 where she told Spain’s far-right Vox party: “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBTQ+ lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender identity, yes to the culture of life, no to that of death.”

 

“Ms. Meloni is obsessed with LGBTQ+ people, she constantly mentions them, holds speeches all over the world naming them. Then when we ask her about this obsession, she says there is nothing homophobic. She evidently also considers us unintelligent,” Arcigay, Italy’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization, wrote in a press release in September. 

Meloni’s government is the most right-wing Rome has seen in decades, despite social attitudes in the country being generally pro-LGBTQ+. A June 2022 Ipsos poll found 63 percent of Italians thought equal marriage should be legal, and 59 percent backed allowing gay parents to adopt children.

V.S. Wells

V. S. Wells is a British writer living in Vancouver, B.C., with bylines in Slate, VICE and Autostraddle. Please stop asking them about Brexit.

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Politics, Power, News, Europe, Parenting

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