Italian Couple Works Legal Loophole To Form Same-Sex Family

Socially conservative Italy isn't likely to embrace gay marriage anytime soon. That hasn't stopped one same-sex couple from trying. While Savona's Francesco and Manuel haven't yet managed to tie the knot, they did come

An Italian gay couple in the Colosseum in Rome
An Italian gay couple in the Colosseum in Rome
Ermanno Branca

SAVONA – It's not exactly a full-fledged marriage, but the official recognition by one Italian coastal town that two men constitute a "family unit" is being seen by some as an important step in the battle for legal recognition of same-sex couples in Italy.

Last year, Francesco Zanardi and Manuel Incorvaia tried to get the mayor of Savona, a seaport on Italy's northwestern coast, to marry them. That effort failed. But they did get the town's registry office to recognize them as a "family unit."

The town hall plays down the recognition, saying officials have merely applied a 1989 local decree that allows people living under the same roof to be given a family status, even when not married, provided they declare a mutual bond of affection.

It's a bit of bureaucratic miracle, but it was accomplished quite easily. All Zanardi and Incorvaia had to do was go to the town's registry office and fill out a form in which they stated their bond of affection and their desire to form a family. The couple was accompanied by some center-left local politicians who have backed their cause.

"It's a further step forward for the rights of gay couples," the two men declare.

Inspired by their new status, the couple has renewed their marriage request. The original petition was denied on grounds that Italy does not envisage same-sex marriages. It's likely their second request will suffer the same fate.

Italy, a Roman Catholic nation that hosts the Vatican, does not recognize same-sex marriages and current center-right Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his government has no plans to do so. An effort by the previous center-left government to introduce rights for de-facto couples, including gay ones, drew opposition and was never turned into law.

Italy does have detailed – and constantly evolving – statutes regulating cohabitation. National law allows people who share the same residency to constitute separate family units for fiscal reasons. But it also allows people to form a single family in cases involving a degree of kinship, adoption, guardianship or when the individuals involved state their bond of affection.

As Zanardi and Incorvaia demonstrated, this "affection clause" can operate as a legal loophole for same-sex couples seeking some type of legal acknowledgement. But it can also be a fragile bond. As easily as a family unit is formed, it can also be dissolved. All that's needed is another visit to the registry office to state the mutual affection is no longer there.

Photo - justinfeed

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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