Valeria Sanzari, the prosecutor for the city of Padua in northern Italy, is trying to cancel the birth certificates of 33 children born to lesbian couples, claiming the documents are illegal because they list the name of a non-biological parent.
Italy has recognized same-sex civil unions since 2016 but does not provide couples full adoption rights in part because surrogate pregnancy is also illegal in the country.
Some local mayors and city councils granted birth certificates to same-sex couples listing both as parents until Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni ordered a stop to the practice earlier this year.
“Since 2017 I have been writing down the birth certificates of the children of two mothers,” Padua’s mayor, Sergio Giordani, told Ansa according to Italy 24 Press News. “It is an act of responsibility towards these little ones because I do not accept the thought that there are children who are discriminated against right away, and as soon as are born, in their fundamental rights.”
“These children are being orphaned by decree,” center-left legislator and LGBTQ+ rights advocate Alessandro Zan was quoted by Reuters.
In her first case, Sanzari is asking the court to remove one of the mothers from the birth certificate of a five-year-old girl and to legally change the girl’s last name. The child was born on August 30, 2017. The court set a hearing for November 14.
The unnamed 40-year-old couple has two children, with each partner the biological parent of one of the children. Both children, a daughter and son, have double surnames reflecting the names of both parents. The daughter has already been enrolled in first grade with the double surname. The girl’s mother decried the situation, saying her daughter is in effect being told she no longer has a brother and mother. The couple has appealed the ruling.
Advocates noted the difficulties facing Italian same-sex couples with children. Non-biological parents can lose custody and children can become wards of the state if the legally recognized parent dies, for example. And they are forced into a lengthy bureaucratic process to legally adopt the child.
Opponents of same-sex parenting expressed little sympathy for the children or their families, however, blaming marriage equality for their actions.
“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," Italy’s minister for parliamentary relations, Luca Ciriani, told RTL radio on Tuesday according to Reuters.
The country’s lower legislative body is currently considering a bill that would make traveling abroad for a surrogate baby punishable by up to two years in jail.