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Rainbow family controversy in Italy slowly turning into full-blown EU dispute

Activists demonstrate in favor of rights for gay couples prior in Rome, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016
Activists demonstrate in favor of rights for gay couples prior in Rome, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 Copyright Andrew Medichini/AP
Copyright Andrew Medichini/AP
By Vincenzo Genovese
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Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing government has been accused of trampling on same-sex couples' parental rights.

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A domestic Italian clash could soon become a European problem, with mayors of Italian cities being prevented from registering foreign birth certificates when presented by same-sex couples.

The mayor of Milan Beppe Sala travelled to Brussels on Wednesday to ask for support in his fight for the rights of the LGBT community, the same day as a debate by MEPs in the European Parliament on the topic that is starting to make its way into EU politics.

Sala told Euronews that children's rights come first.

“Me and some other Italian mayors are fighting this battle because we know this is the law, but at the same time our citizens are asking us to make these registrations to give the rights to their children," he said in an interview.

"And the reason for which I am here, is that the European Court of Human Rights said very clearly that the rights of the children come first place. Italian legislation is not listening to this."

Italian law forbids the use of assisted reproductive technologies for same-sex couples, meaning children cannot have two parents of the same sex. Many mayors have nonetheless been registering birth certificates that come from abroad.

That is until Italy's new Interior minister ordered the law to be enforced.

It has meant practical problems for some same-sex families, but for MEP Carlo Fidanza - a member of the far-right party of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Fratelli d'Italia - it is just the correct application of the law.

“It’s not possible to recognise [the partner of a biological parent] as a second parent for these children because this is in contrast with Italian legislation, not because of Giorgia Meloni or the Italian government," Fidanza told Euronews. 

"The Court of Cassation stated it. The Interior Minister only ordered the prefects to adhere to that ruling and that’s all. There’s no reduction of LGBT rights, no attack on children’s rights, because all children have the same rights. They can be recognised by their biological parent."

Same-sex couples still have the possibility to adopt, if the child is already fathered or mothered by one person in that relationship.

But according to the mayor of Milan this requires a very lengthy and expensive process because in Italy there is no marriage equality between homosexual and heterosexual couples.

The issue of not being recognised as a parent also affects non-biological partners in heterosexual couples who have resorted to surrogacy abroad.

Last December, the European Commission laid out plans for the recognition of parenthood between EU countries, but the Italian senate voted it down.

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