Prospective Developments in Italian Law Regarding 2SLGBTQ+ Families

  • November 17, 2023
  • Rachel Allen (she/her)


In recent years, 2SLGBTQ+ communities across the globe have faced a backlash against 2SLGBTQ+ rights amidst a surge in elections of right-of-centre governments. The recently elected Italian government has begun enacting policies stripping away existing protections for 2SLGBTQ+ families. Canada itself has seen a public movement against trans rights. Canadian lawyers should take note of these trends and remember that Canadian law’s strength lies in its ability to evolve. That ability necessitates vigilance and effort to direct that evolution towards the preservation and enshrinement of rights.

Developments in Italian Law

In 2022, Giorgia Meloni was elected prime minister of Italy. Meloni is part of the Brothers of Italy, a far-right political party. Her platform included presenting herself as an enemy of the 2SLGBTQ+ people, specifically targeting gay parenting rights.[1]

Italy already had sparse protections for 2SLGBTQ+ families prior to Meloni’s election. Italy legalized same-sex civil unions in 2016, but has not legalized same-sex marriage. Italy has not given full adoption rights to same-sex couples. [2] Without clear rights, some Italian courts have ruled in favour of adoption. In June 2018, Milan’s mayor Giuseppe Sala registered birth certificates naming both same-sex parents.[3] Mayors of some other cities followed suit.[4]   Finally, surrogate pregnancies are illegal, but those desiring a family could go to a different country for surrogacy and return to Italy if they wished to pursue surrogacy as an option.[5]

Meloni quickly began targeting the workarounds 2SLGBTQ+ people living in Italy have been using. Since her election, major cities ceased automatically recording both 2SLGBTQ+ parents onto a child’s birth certificate.[6] Milan, the last holdout to the policy, was told by Meloni’s government that it had to stop the automatic registration in the spring of 2023.[7] As a result, the non-biological parent would need to go through an adoption process to acquire parental rights. The adoption process is complicated and can take years.[8]

In June 2023, a state prosecutor in Padua demanded the cancellation of 33 birth certificates of children with both lesbian parents on them and removing the non-birthing mother from the certificate.[9]

Meloni’s government has also moved to ban surrogacy. Meloni has proposed a bill making surrogacy a “universal crime.” Universal crimes are so serious that prosecutions can be commenced even if the crime was committed abroad.[10]  The penalty could result in up two years in prison as well as a fine.[11]

Part of the reason these erosions of rights have been possible in Italy is the lack of legislation protecting 2SLGBTQ+ rights. But Meloni’s government is not acting in a vacuum. 2SLGBTQ+ rights are under attack internationally. In Hungary, the right-wing government enacted laws prohibiting displaying 2SLGBTQ+ content to minors.[12] In the United States, the Florida government prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.[13] In many of these countries, 2SLGBTQ+ rights are being removed.