Same-sex couples and their children in Italy: Can the child have both parents’ last names?

Dec 30, 2022

In September 2022, the Juvenile Court of Bologna stated that the adoption of a child by the same-sex partner of the biological mother responds “to be in the best interests of the child, allowing her to enjoy the affective, educational and emotional continuity of a solid and stable family, in which the same was able to build its own identity ” giving the child the double last name.

Background of the case

This case started in 2018. A month after the child’s birth date, two women, who are civilly united, registered the child at the Anagrafe office reporting both of them as mothers of the kid, and therefore, registering also the surname of both mothers.

The appeal of the Public Prosecutor of Parma led to the removal of the non-biological mother’s last name. However, since the child was adopted from the same-sex partner of her biological mother, this year the Court approved the registration of the double surname, paving the road to other similar cases.

Depending on the municipality of residence, the same issue has been faced differently, but often with positive outcomes. For example, in 2020, in Filiano (Potenza), the Mayor signed a decree which imposed the registration in the civil status records of birth certificates with two mothers or fathers. This decision concerned all those children born in Italy through heterologous fertilization practiced abroad.

The gap in Italian Law and its dilemma

Although in the past few years there have been positive turns of events, as of today in Italy there is no legislation ruling the matter, thus the first decision is always up to each Italian Town Hall.

 As a consequence of this legal gap, there is an actual risk for the child and its parents to see its best interest undermined since the biological mother (the egg donor for medical-assisted procreation) has no legal recognition of her role. 

One of the most recent cases of rejection dates back to November 2022. This case concerned a child born in Italy from two women (one parent being the egg donor and the other one being the expectant) and only the expectant mother was registered in the child’s Italian birth act, excluding the non-expectant one.

The Court of Arezzo applied the Italian legislation currently in force on medically-assisted procreation and civil union (Law n. 40/2004 and law n.76/2016) according to which there is no possibility to recognize the right of filiation to same-sex parents who, as a result, cannot give both their last names to their child. 

As a matter of fact, in Italy, the heterologous fertilization practice is so far forbidden for same-sex couples and their physiological infertility is not considered comparable to infertility faced by many heterosexual couples affected by reproductive pathologies.

What should a rainbow family do in Italy? Long story short…

Considering the lack of Italian legislation on this debated matter and the consequent discretion of the various Town Halls around Italy, the steps to be followed are:

  1. At the moment of the child’s birth, the parents should request the registration of the birth act at the Anagrafe office indicating both of them as parents of the kid.
    In the most positive scenario, the civil officer will approve the request and the kid will be entitled to go by both last names.
    However, in case of a negative outcome:
  2. It will be necessary to wait for a formal rejection and then file an appeal to the Court. In case the Court rules favorably, the civil officer will be obliged to proceed with the registration.

Author of this article: Ylenia Iervolino

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