A First for Italy: Two Mothers Listed on Birth Certificate
Italy’s record for gay rights is a rocky one. The Catholic country only recognized same-sex civil unions in June 2016, and has not yet allowed same-sex marriages. Civil partners have most of the same legal protections as married partners, but not all. For instance, the right to be recognized as equal parents of any child of a union.
In March 2018, international news took note of the case of an anonymous lesbian couple and their newborn son, conceived in assisted procreation at a clinic in Denmark. The mother who carried the child is American, the other is Italian, and the sperm donor was completely anonymous.
When the baby was born in Italy, the couple pushed for both of their names to be listed on the birth certificate. In a heterosexual marriage, a man married to the mother who carried would automatically have been listed, even if it was known that he was not the baby’s father. But in this case, the hospital registrar refused. The matter was important, as the baby’s citizenship in Italy was on the line, so the pair took the matter to the Court of Pisa.
“In my country, the child would be immediately registered as the son of both,” said the American mother. “I feel my blood freeze when I think that in Italy he is denied such a basic right.”
“If the child had been born in the United States, the birth certificate with the double maternity would be transcribed here without problems,” said the family’s attorney, seconding the mother. “But since the birth took place in Italy, the United States must now rely on the Italian document that indicates only one parent and it cannot add the other mother in drafting its documents.”
The couple lost their first suit, but on July 5th, the family won their appeal in Naples. The court ruled that both women’s names belonged on the birth certificate because the Italian mother “accepted and shared the project of assisted procreation.”