Hundreds of people took to the streets in Milan to protest against Italy’s new right-wing government’s move to ban same-sex parenting rights.
“You tell my son I’m not his mother,” read a sign amid a sea of rainbow flags in the northern city’s downtown core.
Italy legalized same-sex civil unions in 2016, but opposition from the Catholic Church meant it prevented same-sex couples from being granted adoption rights.
Although some local authorities decide to act unilaterally, decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by the courts as parents take legal action.
Milan had been registering the children of same-sex couples abroad through surrogacy – which is illegal in Italy – or medically assisted reproduction, which is only available to heterosexual couples.
But its centre-left mayor, Giuseppe Sala, revealed this week that it had stalled after the Interior Ministry sent a letter insisting the court should decide.
“It’s a clear 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 possibility in Milan,” he said on the podcast, vowing to fight the change.
Fabrizio Marazzo, of the Gay Party, said around 20 children were waiting to be registered in Milan and condemned the change as “unjust and discriminatory”.
A mother or father who is not legally recognized as her or his child’s parent can face huge bureaucratic problems, along with the risk of losing the child if the registered parent dies or the couple breaks up.
Elena Schlein, the newly elected leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, was among the opposition politicians who took part in the protests on Saturday, where many campaigners rallied against the new government.
The prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, whose far-right Italian party brothers came out on top in September’s election, places a strong emphasis on traditional family values.
“Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby!” She said this in a speech last year ahead of her election to head Matteo Salvini’s right-wing coalition, including the anti-immigration League.
Earlier this week, a Senate committee voted against an EU plan to force member states to recognize the rights of same-sex parents granted elsewhere in the bloc.