Italy is making it harder for LGBT parents to live openly in the country. Despite previous opposition, the practice of registering both parents at the registry office is now legal in some jurisdictions. Sometimes the decision was even reversed retroactively.
I am no more than a babysitter in the eyes of Italian law. Right away, Mirco Pierro gets to the meat of the matter. He and his wife, Davide, have two sons, Emanuele (8) and Matteo (4). Mirco and Davide got married in the US, but in Italy, their union is not legally recognized. It was across the seas that they welcomed their two sons.
While both parents’ names appear on their son’s birth certificate in California, only Davide’s name appears on the document in Rome, as Mirco explains. There’s a blank spot after “mother,” followed by “father,” and then his name. The two dads had to file for a specific document in California that would only list the biological father’s name in order to convert the American birth certificate to the Italian one. Davide’s, then.
“During our conversations with the civil registrar, he hinted that we didn’t have to try with two names either,” Davide explains. Because the paperwork would obscure the registration.
BIRTH CERTIFICATIONS CANCELED
There are over 100,000 same-sex families in Italy. They didn’t all come from families where both parents were homosexual. There are offspring with at least one father who did not first identify as gay. According to the Italian civil registration, each of these children has only one biological parent.
Rome’s municipal government has never included children born to lesbian couples in its official civil registration. For instance, the Milan city government broke the regulations and did so, but has been ordered to halt by the Italian Ministry of the Interior. Some cities even revoke birth certificates that show two parents of the same sex.
“That is state homophobia,” says Mirco angrily. Under Italian law, two parents of the same sex cannot have children, so only the biological parent is recognized as a parent. Mirco’s name does not appear anywhere in the Italian bureaucracy, for Italian law it does not exist.
“Formally, when I go to pick up the children from school, I have to have permission from Davide. And in the case of illness of the children, the doctor can refuse to give me information.” On the other hand, he is also not obliged to pay alimony if the two separate. “Besides rights, I have no obligations.”
In practice, Italian society appears to be a lot more tolerant; no teacher who asks for a power of attorney, no doctor who refuses information and for the other parents at school, Mirco and Davide are just the parents of Emanuele and Matteo. “Sometimes a classmate of the twins comes to us with the question: is it true that Emanuele and Matteo have two dads?” “Yes, that’s us.” “Oh, okay”, and then they walk away again. Italian society is much further than politics.”
The two came to the Italian capital over twenty years ago, and although they grew up close to each other, they only met in Rome. They married in the US and desperately wanted children. “A desire to have children is universal, independent of your sexual orientation.”
Gay parents are also not allowed to adopt in Italy, so surrogacy was the only option for Mirco and Davide. They found two women in California through a brokerage agency. “One donates the eggs and the other carries the pregnancy to term,” explains Mirco. “That’s to prevent bonding.”
There are stringent regulations on surrogacy in the Golden State. Women must pass rigorous psychological and financial requirements before being considered. The goal is to rule out any financial gain on the surrogate’s part. A tedious and time-consuming process.
Davide chuckles and says, “Their decision is not really a capriccio,” which means “whim.” Critics say gay parents want children on the spur of the moment, but no one ever says that about heterosexual couples who use a surrogate mother. “On a whim is booking a holiday to the Maldives, and as a father you don’t have time for such whims.”
Given the current political climate in Italy, it seems doubtful that Mirco will be listed as the father of his newborn twins. Except in the eyes of the IRS, he does not exist as a father. “For the tax authorities, we are a family,” Davide explains. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan: “When it comes to money, the government is very quick, but apparently fundamental rights can wait.”