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An Italian court has ruled that a same-sex couple’s twins, born to a California surrogate in 2015, are not in fact brothers, despite being born from eggs from the same donor. The court initially refused to allow the couple to register their sons as their legal children when they returned home to Milan.
Despite obvious disappointment, the men were instructed they could register their biological sons individually, as each was the biological father of one child. As a couple, however, the twins could not be legally declared their children. As of last year, Italy affords same-sex couples civil partnerships but does not allow them adoption or marriage rights. Italian law also declares surrogacy illegal.
Even though the ruling drew instant criticism, those familiar with Italian law are describing it as a step in the right direction. One such entity is Famiglie Arcobaleno, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) which advocates and supports the rights of gay couples and their children.
“It’s the first time that an Italian court has established that a child’s best interest comes before [the legality of] how he or she was born,” the NGO’s president, Marilena Grassadonia, told The Washington Post in a telephone interview. She continued, “The children’s interest was to have a parent. Also, until now the babies were only U.S. citizens, but finally their fathers can pass their Italian citizenship to them.”
In her interview with The Washington Post, Grassadonia pointed out how other nongovernmental organizations like theirs help navigate gay couples to countries where the rights and wellness of surrogates are respected.
“California and Canada are our preferred destinations,” she told the reporter.
Grassadonia went on to say that the twin boys never appeared to be in danger of being removed from their fathers’ care. According to the media coverage, a “removal” could be triggered by two factors in Italy: a surrogate exploited in a poverty-stricken country and/or falsifying information regarding conception.
Many are beginning to realize that the Italian court’s ruling should be viewed as progress. The Italian government recognized these men as the parents of their biological child, despite knowing they are a same-sex couple who had children in the United States by way of surrogacy.
While it’s bittersweet the children are not legally recognized as a family per se, this is still progress in Italy – and any progress like this should be encouraged and applauded.