A state prosecutor in northern Italy has demanded that 33 birth certificates be cancelled of children born to lesbian couples dating back to 2017. The prosecutor says the name of the nonbiological mother should be removed.
The move by the prosecutor of Padua, highlighted the situation facing gay families in Italy. It came months after Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government ordered city councils to stop registering same-sex parents’ children.
Italy legalised same-sex civil unions in 2016 under a centre-left government. However, it did not give couples full adoption rights. Their ‘fear’ was it would encourage surrogate pregnancies, which remain illegal.
In the absence of clear legislation on the issue some courts have ruled in favour of allowing such couples to adopt each others’ children. Mayors of some cities, including Padua, have registered births to both partners from same-sex unions.
However, the prosecutor of Padua, Valeria Sanzari, opened a legal case this month. She said 33 birth certificates signed by the city mayor since 2017 should be changed, with the name of the nonbiological mother removed.
A court will rule on her requests later this year.
Leaving one mother without any rights
Removing the name of a parent from a birth certificate creates bureaucratic hurdles, not to mention the emotional strain.
The mother whose name is eliminated will no longer be able to carry out certain tasks. These include picking up her child from school without the written permission of her partner. If the legally recognised parent dies, the child(ren) could be taken from the family home and become a ward of the state.
To regain her parenting rights, the nonbiological mother has to go through a lengthy and expensive special adoption procedure.
“These children are being orphaned by decree,” said centre-left parliamentarian Alessandro Zan, who has pushed for gay rights in Italy. “This is a cruel, inhumane decision,” he added.
The government defended the prosecutor’s decision.
“In Italy, marriage is only between a man and a woman, and therefore only the biological parent is the parent whose surname can be registered,” Luca Ciriani, the minister for parliamentary relations, told RTL radio on Tuesday.
Italy’s lower house is currently debating making it a crime for couples who go abroad to have a surrogate baby. The ‘crime’ would carry a maximum sentence of two years in jail.
Scrutiny over government’s stance
PM Giorgia Meloni and her centre-right alliance government are facing increasing scrutiny from abroad over their very conservative agenda.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Meloni publicly in Japan last month that Canada was “concerned” about some of the positions that Italy was taking in terms of LGBTQ rights.
The CJEU ruled that Member States must uphold the rights of same-sex couples and their children under EU law. French MEP and vice-president of the European Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup, Pierre Karleskind, says, “The Italian decision is monstrous, because it simply amounts to the administrative removal of a child from one of its parents on the grounds of homosexuality. We cannot let children be the victims of this despicable far-right crusade against rainbow families”.