LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Italy’s families minister Lorenzo Fontana provoked outrage from LGBT groups on Thursday by suggesting same-sex couples who have children via surrogacy abroad should not be recognized as the child’s legal guardian.
Fontana, a member of the right-wing League party, said in parliament that Italian family law needed to take into account recent incidences of same-sex couples returning to the country with babies born to surrogate mothers abroad.
The babies were conceived via practices that were “banned by our laws and should remain so”, Fontana said, remarks that Italian LGBT activists were quick to condemn.
Under current legislation, same-sex couples are unable to adopt children via surrogacy in Italy, leading many to seek options in neighboring countries.
“We don’t want to have ‘A-series’ and ‘B-series’ children,” Gabriele Piazzoni, the national secretary of Arcigay, Italy’s largest LGBT organization, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday.
“We must put children at the top of our mind and our politics – and not our ideological thoughts about homosexual couples. This is a quite stupid statement.”
Fontana has made a series of similar comments about the LGBT community in the past. Last month, he stated that gay families do not “legally exist” in the country.
“A child must have a mother and a father,” he said at the time.
The families minister’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
A bill passed in 2016 granted same-sex couples the right to civil partnership in Italy, but stepped back from allowing full adoption rights.
However, a series of recent court cases across Italy at the municipal level have recognized the rights of LGBT people to be the legal guardians of adopted children.
“#Italy’s Family Minister, @Fontana3Lorenzo, has returned to attacking the #LGBT community,” wrote Women’s March-Milan.
“He’s pushing for the denial of parental rights to same-sex parents. We will push back. With all our might.”
Israel has faced similar calls for equal surrogacy rights for same-sex partners since a legal change last week to surrogacy rules that excluded single men and gay couples sparked a wave of protests.
Tens of thousands of people have since taken to the streets of Tel Aviv in support of the rights of prospective LGBT parents.
Reporting by Hugo Greenhalgh @hugo_greenhalgh, additional reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org