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Italy's Crackdown On Same-Sex Parents Could Retroactively Dissolve Families

A new measure from the right-wing government could force same-sex parents of children already in elementary school to suddenly lose their parental rights and status.

Amongst the Pride crowd, an older person in large sunglasses wears the updated progress pride flag over their shoulders

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community take part in the Pride parade in Rome, Italy, 10 June 2023.

Laura Berlinghieri

PADUA — High on the list of priorities for the far-right government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been targeting the rights of same-sex couples with children.

In March, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala was ordered to stop independently registering same-sex couples as parents of newborns, in accordance with an Italian high court ruling that only the court can rubber-stamp legal recognition of a same-sex parent. This new enforcement involves halting the legal registration of children of same-sex parents, compromising the children’s ability to access education and medical care.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

This week, the crackdown has gone one step further in the northern city of Padua, where 33 families with same-sex mothers now risk losing basic recognition of parental status for their children.

The documents that the families have received in recent days contain the request of the Public Prosecutor's Office for the alteration of their children’s birth certificates years after their children have been born, with some of them already in primary school.. The administration's policy seeks to make only the biological parent the legal caretaker, leaving the other parent with no rights over their own children.

This is being enforced retroactively by Meloni's government, as the birth certificates of children who are already enrolled in primary school may need to be changed.

Orphaned overnight

The birth certificates must now only hold the name of the biological mothers. The non-biological mother will be the designated “second parent.” The families are also being asked to change the children’s last names so as to exclude that “second parent.”

For our daughter, this ordeal risks becoming a trauma in a delicate phase of her development.

For one of the couples, the court has already set the date of the hearing for the discussion of the appeal for Nov. 14.

“For our daughter, this ordeal risks becoming a trauma in a delicate phase of her development. She will no longer have a brother and a mother," says the biological mother of one family affected.

The woman is 40 years old, the same age as her wife, and they were married abroad. Their daughter is almost six years old and will be in first grade next year. She has a younger brother, who was given birth to by her non-biological mother. Following Nov. 14, she may not have her family legally recognized by the state.

The Padua Public Prosecutor's Office challenged all the pro-LGBTQ acts since 2017. If the court accepts the prosecutor's request, overnight these 33 children will find themselves formally orphaned from one of their parents. 33 mothers will no longer be legally considered parents of their children. They will not be able to pick up their children from school, take them to the doctor or sign their school booklets. The most solid relationship of one’s life will now be swept away by a judicial act.

“We are talking about removing a legal parent from a minor, even six years after birth. A shameful and unworthy act for a civilized country,” says Alessia Crocini, president of Famiglie Arcobaleno, an organization that supports same-sex parents.

Protesters in the street, two women in medical masks hold signs saying "+ Bacini - Salvin" and "+ Limoni - Meloni"

Pro LGBTQ+ march after the sinking of the Zan DDL in the Senate on 30 October 2021 in Turin, Italy.

Alberto Gandolfo / ZUMA

Hope and frustration

Among the Padua mothers, there are still those who hope not to be affected by the act. “My wife and I are terrified,” admits Vanessa Finesso. “I gave birth to our daughter, but my wife is the biological mother. I hope this protects us. Our little girl grew up with a love that is no less than what she would get from a father.”

Finesso turned to the city of Padua, which has a center-left administration. Mayor Sergio Giordani comments that “we have always promptly communicated each deed to the Prosecutor, without ever having counter-arguments. There are times when a mayor is alone with his conscience and the Constitution, and must decide in the primary interest of those in front of him. And for me the interest to put at the center was that of these children.”

On Monday, the prosecutor herself commented: “I am required to enforce the law. And with the current legislation, I can't do anything else.”

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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