Are LGBT Rights Under Fire In Italy?

At the beginning of March, the Municipality of Milan was forced to stop registering children born to homo-parental couples in Italy, also known as rainbow families.  This interruption was due to a circular issued by the Ministry of the Interior, based on a ruling by the Supreme Court, United Section, on 30 December 2022, which states that only the biological father, the one who donated the sperm in a surrogate motherhood, can be registered at the registry office as a parent.

This blockade has caused quite a stir because of the center-right’s rejection of the European filiation certificate, which stipulates that parenthood established in any country can be recognised in any other member state, without the need to go through special procedures. It does not matter whether the children come from heterosexual, homosexual, surrogate or adopted couples.

The response was not long in coming. Thus began in Milan the demonstration “Giù le mani dai nostri figli e dalle nostre figlie” (‘Hands off our sons and daughters’) to prevent the blockade imposed by the municipality on the transcription of children of same-sex couples and promoted by I Sentinelli di Milano, Associazione Famiglie Arcobaleno and CIG Arcigay. This was by all accounts a political act. In fact, several political personalities appeared at the event. The name that caused the most uproar was that of Elly Schlein, the first woman and the youngest secretary of the Partito Democratico (the main party of the Left in Italy, as well as the main opposition to Fratelli d’Italia, the party of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni).

Family Minister Eugenia Roccella stated that the government’s and majority’s choice to activate the prefects was made “for one problem only”, namely “preventing gay male couples from resorting to gestation by others”, even though in reality it is mainly female couples who are affected. The cases of heterosexual couples who resort to gestation for others abroad (because it is forbidden in Italy) are not affected.

Michele Giarratano, lawyer and activist of Famiglie Arcobaleno (“Rainbow Families”). “Adoption does not sufficiently protect these children and, in addition to the time and lengthy procedures, has a fundamental problem: it requires, on pain of inadmissibility, the consent of the person exercising parental responsibility, i.e. the biological parent”.

This ruling was relatively short-lived. The European Parliament approved in plenary in Brussels an amendment brought forward by Renew Europe in which it “condemns the instructions given by the Italian government to the Milan municipality to no longer register the children of same-sex and same-sex couples” and calls on the government headed by Giorgia Meloni to “immediately revoke its decision”. It goes on to say that “this decision will inevitably lead to discrimination not only against same-sex couples, but also and above all against their children; it considers that this action constitutes a direct violation of the rights of minors, as listed in the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Adolescent. Furthermore, it expresses concern that this decision is part of a broader attack on the LGBT community in Italy; it calls on the Italian government to revoke its decision immediately”.

This ruling restores some hope, but it should also make us think carefully about what path the country is taking. Since the Meloni government came to power, Italy seems to be aligning itself with the ideals of countries like Hungary and Poland. Increasingly radicalised on human rights issues, this new direction is very frightening. One can no longer rely on EU lawmakers to counter these disturbing trends. Ordinary people must take action on the ground so that laws similar to those in Italy no longer see the light of day.