Italy court urges more rights for children of gay couples

Rome (AFP) –


Italy's Constitutional Court on Tuesday said the country urgently needs a law on the rights of children of same-sex couples, in a step campaigners said did not go far enough.

The court issued rulings in two separate cases, relating to a lesbian couple who had children using medically-assisted reproduction abroad, and to two men in a civil partnership who had a child via surrogacy in Canada.

Same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children in Italy, although campaigners say some exceptions are made to allow the adoption of a partner's child -- where the birth parent agrees.

In the case of the lesbian couple, they broke up, leaving the woman who was not the birth mother without parental rights over their two twin daughters.

The two men, who went to Canada to have a child via surrogate in 2015, have meanwhile been seeking legal recognition in Italy for both men as fathers.

The Constitutional Court was not tasked with ruling on whether the plaintiffs in either case should be granted immediate parenting rights.

But in both cases it ruled that the children's rights were not sufficiently protected and that parliament needed to pass a law to rectify the situation.

In a press statement on the women's ruling, the court called for an end to political wrangling over the issue in the majority-Catholic country.

It warned of a "serious lack of protection of the interests of the child" that "will no longer be tolerable if the inertia of the legislature continues".

It issued a similar ruling in the men's case, though it emphasised that surrogacy remains illegal in Italy.

Marilena Grassadonia, from the Famiglie Arcobaleno (Rainbow Families) group that campaigns for the rights of LGBT parents, told AFP the rulings did not go far enough.

"The court says what we have been saying for years, that there is an immediate need for a law to protect the children of all families," she said.

"Court rulings do not give results, they do not go beyond saying that politics must give answers. We hoped that the court would take a bigger step."