ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - In a landmark judgment, Italy's supreme court has ruled against two lesbians who both wanted to be declared mothers of a child who was conceived by means of artificial insemination.
The Court of Cassation (judgment 7668/2020) ruled that only one parent has "the right to be mentioned as a mother in the birth certificate, by virtue of a relationship of filiation which presupposes the biological and/or genetic link with the child."
In a setback to the homosexual agenda in Italy, the five-member bench of judges reasoned that the ruling upheld the country's law prohibiting homosexual couples from accessing medically assisted procreation techniques — a law ratified by Italy's Constitutional Court in June 2019.
Italian law expressly prohibits medically assisted procreation to protect children from being turned into commodities as well as to protect surrogate mothers from exploitation by treating the surrogate mother as a means to an end. Surrogacy also makes maternity uncertain with negative consequences for the psycho-social development of the child.
The lesbians, who cannot be named for legal reasons, entered into a registered civil union in 2016 and conceived a female child in 2017 from heterologous artificial insemination through an anonymous donor in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A baby girl was born in November 2018 at the Ospedale dell'Angelo Mestre in Venice. The couple insisted that the municipal registrar in Treviso, Venice, register both as mothers of the child on the birth certificate.
In keeping with the law, the registrar said he would have to issue the certificate registering the child as "born from the natural union with a man, not related or related."
The lesbians appealed to the Court of Treviso to order the registrar to correct the entry attributing to the child the status of "daughter of the couple, girl born in Treviso, with insemination carried out abroad."
On April 3, the supreme court upheld the judgment of the lower court arguing that at the root of the current law is the intent to guarantee that the sexual union and birth of a child reproduces the model of the family characterized by the presence of a mother and a father.
Welcoming the ruling, Catholic pro-lifer Massimo Gandolfini said: "In less than a year, the highest bodies of Italian jurisprudence have established that the registry offices cannot delete the father with a simple administrative act and that to create a child the union between a man and a woman will always be necessary."
"This is another blow against those experiments of social alchemy that, in the name of an adult's desire, trample on the child's right to have a father and mother, and to know his own identity," the leader of Family Day commented.
The lesbian couple is set to appeal against the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Human rights commentator Professor Andrew Tettenborn told Church Militant that the "decision by the Corte di Cassazione seems to me to exude good sense."
"The court hasn't prevented two women arranging to bring a child into the world and raise it together (however much some people might say this was a far from satisfactory form of family life, often owing more to the parents' self-indulgence than to a disinterested regard for the child). Equally, it is doing nothing to stop them from telling the child — however confusing it may find this when it talks to other children — that unlike most others it has two mothers," he pointed out.
Tettenborn explained: "It merely requires an official document to comply with what is a generally accepted use of language: that if a union between a man and a woman creates a child, the former is the father and the latter the mother," adding:
What Strasbourg will say is anyone's guess. The complaint is actually trivial in the extreme: it essentially concerns a single word on a state-issued document that will in all probability be filed away for nobody to read. But I wouldn't put it past the court to say that the vindication of the applicant's amour propre matters is everything, with ordinary linguistic usage and the accuracy of public record-keeping taking a distinctly back seat.
In May 2019, in the case of two gay men, Italy's highest court ruled that the non-biological father of two children born through surrogacy overseas could not be named as the children's legal parent.
The gay couple from Trento had two children in Canada with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate mother. Italy's court said that only the children's biological father would be listed as their legal parent, while his partner would have to apply for special permission to become their adoptive father – despite the fact that both men are named on the children's Canadian birth certificates.
The homosexuals, who originally won their case at Trento's Court of Appeal in Feb. 2017 to have both partners recognized as fathers, had the decision challenged by Trento's public prosecutor, the mayor of Trento, and the ministry of the interior led by Matteo Salvini, head of the populist Lega Party and a vocal opponent of parenting rights for same-sex couples.
Italy does not recognize so-called gay marriage. In 2016, when the Italian Parliament passed a statute on "registered partnerships between persons of the same sex" (Law No 76/ 2016), 11 Western European countries had already recognized same-sex "marriage," whereas 18 had permitted a form of civil partnership for same-sex couples.
Academics Carlo Flamigni and Andrea Borini, in their book on heterologous insemination, underscore the "ethical hegemony of Catholic values" on issues related to medically assisted procreation:
The ordinary Italian is not particularly religious, even attentive to the rules of Catholic morality. However, especially when they have to take position on ethical issues, [ordinary Italians] still tend to be inspired by bishops and priests, who seem to maintain a particular prestige, even in a historical moment in which the religion they represent is troubled by a serious crisis of credibility.
In an academic article on "Same-Sex Marriage and Italian Exceptionalism," Italian legal expert Matteo Winkler concedes that one of the factors for the country's upholding of the "heteronormativity of marriage" is "the long influence of the Catholic Church."