The government in Italy has started removing same-sex parents from their children’s birth certificates. This could lead to mothers losing custody of their children.
Lesbian mothers risk being removed from their children
In April 2023, the Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, demanded that councils stop registering the children of same-sex couples. Only a couple months later, in July, Italy officially began removing lesbian mothers’ names from their children’s birth certificates. Innocent children who have two loving parents could be stripped away from their families. In Padua, 27 families and 33 children have been affected by this policy. This is the number of same-sex couples’ children mayor Sergio Giordani registered between 2017-2022. The current law in Italy states that if the biological mother of the child dies or the queer couple decides to break up, the non-biological parent could lose custody of their child as they are not officially recognised as a parent.
One of the queer women affected by this policy is Michela Leidi. She reported that ‘it was as if I did not exist’. She suspects the Italian Government ‘is afraid that a family that looks different, like ours, can be as happy – maybe even happier, sometimes – as a traditional family’. Under Italy’s law, Leidi’s daughter Giulia only has one mother when in reality she has two. Another family at risk declared that because the biological mother Vanessa Finesso has cancer, they are afraid of her passing away. In the case that she does, her partner could lose custody of their daughter, leaving her with no parents.
Why won’t Italy give same-sex couples the right to parent children?
Although Italy legalised same-sex unions, not marriage, back in 2016, full adoption rights are still debated over. The main pushback in the fight for same-sex parenthood to be legalised is the aspect of surrogacy. What is often referred to as the ‘utero in affitto’, translated ‘uterus for rent’ is a cause for concern among many conservative politicians, especially those part of Meloni’s party Brothers of Italy.
Masked as fight for cis women’s bodily autonomy – even though the people carrying a child for another couple have to give explicit consent to it – the anti-LGBTQ+ policies continue to set women’s rights against LGBTQ+ rights. However, these two fights are not separate from each other but they exist cohesively. Prohibiting same-sex parents from raising children and building a loving family will not create a safer environment for cis women. Most importantly, surrogacy does not pose any risks to cis women’s bodily autonomy as it is their choice to decide whether or not they want to carry out a pregnancy for two loving parents.
Miss Italy bans transgender women
The government in Italy has not shown any intention of progressing the country’s LGBTQ+ rights. In fact, besides restricting LGBTQ+ parents’ rights, the conservative Giorgia Meloni has also publicly declared her homophobic views. Last year, she opposed the Zan bill which would have criminalised violence against LGBTQ+ people. She also believes a child should have a mother and a father, and she disapproves of trans-inclusive language.
Following Meloni’s example, this month, the female beauty pageant Miss Italy decided to ban trans women from competing. According to Il Primato Nazionale, an Italian news outlet, the beauty pageant will only allow ‘women from birth’ to take part in the competition. Patrizia Mirigliani, Miss Italy’s official patron, dismissed the concept of trans-inclusivity as ‘absurd’. To protest this decision, trans men from all over the country have signed-up to compete in Miss Italy’s pageant, standing in solidarity with trans women.
Weeks prior to Italy’s news, the Netherlands made history with the first transgender woman to win Miss Netherlands. Rikkie Kollé won the pageant and will represent the country at this year’s 72nd Miss Universe competition. She is only the second trans person to ever do so.
While pro-LGBTQ+ politicians including Italian author and activist Michela Murgia have spoken out against Meloni’s legal action, the Prime Minister remains firm. Meloni’s regime not only threatens LGBTQ+ rights but also abortion rights which the European country has fought hard to achieve. We stand with the LGBTQ+ community in Italy and condemn Meloni’s attempts to separate children from their loving families.