A state prosecutor in northern Italy has demanded the cancellation of 33 birth certificates of children born to lesbian couples dating back to 2017, saying the name of the nonbiological mother should be removed.
The move by the prosecutor of Padua, which came to light late on Monday, highlighted the legal morass 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 legalized same-sex civil unions in 2016 under a center-left government, but stopped short of giving couples full adoption rights, fearing that it would encourage surrogate pregnancies, which remain illegal.
In the absence of clear legislation on the issue some courts have ruled in favor of allowing such couples to adopt each others’ children, and 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, saying that 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.
The prosecutor’s initiative outraged Italy’s LGBTQ community.
“These children are being orphaned by decree,” said center-left parliamentarian Alessandro Zan, who has pushed for gay rights in Italy. “This is a cruel, inhumane decision,” he added.
Removing the name of a parent from a birth certificate creates both bureaucratic hurdles and emotional strains.
The mother whose name is eliminated will no longer be able to fulfill a series of tasks, including picking up her child from school without the written permission of her partner. If the legally recognized parent dies, the children 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.
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 a law that would make it a crime, punishable by up to two years in jail, for couples who go abroad to have a surrogate baby, even in places where it is legal, such as the United States or Canada.
Meloni, a self-declared enemy of what she calls “gender ideology” and “the LGBT lobby,” faces increasing scrutiny from abroad over her highly conservative agenda for families.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Meloni publicly at a summit of Group of Seven leaders in Japan last month that Canada was “concerned” about some of the positions that Italy was taking in terms of LGBTQ rights.