Italy has begun removing the names of gay mothers from their children’s birth certificates, as part of the right-wing government’s crackdown on same-sex parenting.
The move comes after populist prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s coalition announced in March that state agencies should no longer register the children of same-sex couples, a move that sparked protests in Milan.
Families have begun receiving letters from the state prosecutor, with PinkNews reporting that 27 parents in the northern city of Padua have been issued notices that they were being removed from their child’s birth certificate. Other families have received letters in Milan, Florence and Fiumicino, near Rome.
Michael Leidi and her wife Viola were reportedly among one of the three lesbian couples to be targeted by the crackdown, with Ms Leidi telling LGBTQ+ Nation that she “cried for 10 days” after receiving the letter.
It informed them that the inclusion of Ms Leidi’s name was “contrary to public order”, as she was not the biological mother of the couple’s daughter Giulia, the site reported.
The policy means only the recognised biological mother has parenting rights, and if she was to die, her children can be handed to relatives or taken into the state’s care.
“It was as if I did not exist,” Ms Leidi told LGBTQ+ Nation. “I suspect the government is afraid that a family that looks different, like ours, can be happy - maybe even happier, sometimes - as a traditional family.
“On paper, they say Guilia has one mother but we know she has two. We will do everything possible to prove we are a good family.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ms Leidi said that the couple had been together for 11 years and were both teachers of children with special needs. After Viola became pregnant through artificial insemination, their local mayor had signed Giulia’s birth certificate and had been “very supportive”.
Despite this, they were recently sent a letter informing them of the changes to the birth certificate. It was followed by an unsuccessful legal attempt to overturn the removal of her name and a rejection by local judges of their bid to take the case to Italy’s Supreme Court.
Italy’s first female prime minister had rallied against the ‘LGBT lobby’ and ‘gender ideology’ as part of her successful campaign last year to win power.
Despite Ms Meloni comparing herself to British Conservatives and denying she is homophobic, her party rose to power with tough rhetoric against same-sex parenting and support for traditional families and moral values.
In a recent speech, she said: “We want a nation in which – whatever each person’s legitimate choices and free inclinations may be – it is no longer a scandal to say we are all born from a man and a woman.”
Her coalition partner, Matteo Salvini, of the far-right League party, had previously called gay parents “unnatural” while the government opposed a Brussels plan for a parenthood certificate that would be valid across the EU.
In 2016, Italy’s former centre-left government legalised same-sex civil unions, however stopped short from issuing full adoption rights following opposition from the Catholic church.
Gay couples are forced to go abroad if they want children, as they are banned from accessing reproductive medical treatment such as IVF and surrogacy is also prohibited.
Italian law does not rule if same-sex couples can both be recognised as parents on official certification, which meant local mayors were left to make the call based on their own personal views.
However, now the message from the interior ministry to town halls is that such arrangements are illegal. This follows a Supreme Court ruling last December against a male same-sex couple who brought a child obtained through surrogacy into Italy.
Pro-LGBTQ politicians have condemned the move, arguing that it is clearly discriminatory. Elly Scheink, the leader of the centre-Left party, who is also in a same-sex relationship, said: “These families are tired of being discriminated against.
“We’re talking about boys and girls already growing up in our communities and going to schools.”
Meanwhile, a poll last month found that two-thirds of Italians hold positive views on same-sex parenting and adoption, demonstrating a surge of support in recent years.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies