MILAN — Gay rights activists on Tuesday denounced as homophobic moves by Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni’s far-right-led government to limit recognition of parental rights to the biological parent only in the case of same-sex parents.
The city of Milan has been told to stop officially recording both parents in same-sex couples on city registers. It had been the last major city in Italy to be doing so. Earlier, a smattering of administrations had briefly embraced the practice of recognizing both parents regardless of sexual orientation, but they all stopped following instructions from the central government.
The piece of bureaucracy is key to recognizing parental rights for a range of everyday situations like authorizing medical treatment or participation in class outings. The president of Rainbow Families, Alessia Crocini, said the move exposed the Meloni government’s homophobia.
“This government is the maximum expression of homophobia,’’ she said. “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.”
Yuri Guaiana, of the activist group All Out, said the move “throws thousands of families into uncertainty.’’
News of the move, which had been communicated to Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala by the local prefect, came on the same day that a Senate commission blocked an attempt to recognize birth certificates of the children of same sex couples issued by other EU states.
Sala pledged to fight for a law conferring rights equally on same-sex parents, but said in the meantime he could not risk putting workers in the city registry office at odds with the government’s decision.
Sala’s administration not only transcribed documents from other countries recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian parents, but also conferred the same recognition on same-sex parents of children born in Italy.
Other cities like Rome, Turin and Naples had also conferred similar recognition briefly for a period after Italy‘s high court made it easier for gays to adop t a partner’s biological child. But they stopped as administrations changed hands and political winds shifted in Rome. In the absence of such recognition, the non-birth mother or father must go through the adoption process to establish parental rights - something that can take years.
Former Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino, the first mayor to recognize the rights of both same-sex parents without seeking court approval, said the new ban “is only the last slap against these families.” She joined Sala’s call for a law recognizing their rights.
Italy’s Gay Party, formed in 2020 to give political heft to the fight against anti-gay discrimination, estimates that some 150,000 children are impacted by Italy’s failure to recognize the rights of both parents in same-sex marriages. That includes hundreds in the city of Milan.
Gay Party spokesman Fabrizio Marrazzo called on Italian mayors to subvert the government’s request and register both same-sex parents in an act of civil disobedience.
“When norms are discriminatory, mayors need to have the courage to say so,’’ he said.
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