Italy legalized same-sex civil unions in 2016, but did not give gay couples the right to adopt.
Hundreds of people have taken to the streets in Milan to protest measures by Italy’s new right-wing government to curtail the rights of same-sex parents.
“You are explaining to my son that I am not his mother,” read a sign held aloft in a sea of rainbow flags in one of the northern city’s central squares on Saturday.
Italy legalized same-sex civil unions in 2016, but opposition from the Catholic Church meant it stopped granting gay couples the right to adopt.
Instead, decisions have been made by the courts on a case-by-case basis in legal action taken by parents, although some local authorities have decided to act unilaterally.
Milan registered children of same-sex couples conceived abroad through surrogacy, which is illegal in Italy, or medically assisted procreation, which is only available to heterosexual couples.
But the center-left mayor, Beppe Sala, revealed this week that these registrations had stopped after the Interior Ministry sent a letter insisting that the courts should decide.
“It’s an obvious step backwards from a political and social point of view, and I put myself in the shoes of those parents who thought they could count on this opportunity in Milan,” he said in a podcast while promising the change to combat.
Fabrizio Marrazzo of the Gay Party said about 20 children are waiting to be registered in Milan, condemning the change as “unjust and discriminatory”.
A mother or father who is not legally recognized as the parent of their child can face enormous bureaucratic problems, including the risk of losing the child if the registered parent dies or the couple’s relationship breaks down.
Elly Schlein, the newly elected leader of the center-left Democratic Party, was among the opposition politicians who attended Saturday’s protest, which saw many campaigners rant against the new national government.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Brothers of Italy party came first in September’s elections, places a strong emphasis on traditional family values.
“Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby!” she said last year in a speech ahead of her election as head of a right-wing coalition that includes Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration league.
Earlier this week, a Senate committee voted against an EU plan to require member states to recognize same-sex parents’ rights granted elsewhere in the bloc.