The highest court in Italy has ruled that parents who seek to have children via surrogacy in other countries will not be recognized as co-parents.
The Court of Cassation ruled on Wednesday that a gay couple from Trento, who had traveled to Canada to have two children born with the aid of an egg donor and a surrogate mother, would not be able to recognized as the children’s fathers in Italy.
Only the children’s biological father will be allowed to be listed as the children’s legal parent, even though the children’s Canadian birth certificates list both men as the fathers. His partner will be required to apply for ‘special permission’ to become the children’s adoptive parent.
The decision follows a long court battle wherein the couple initially won their case in the Trento Court of Appeals in February of 2017.
But that ruling was challenged by the public prosecutor of Trento as well as the mayor of Trento and the Ministry of the Interior.
In the high court’s ruling, the judges wrote the decision was intended to “protect the dignity of pregnant women and the institution of adoption.”
The couple was forced to travel abroad for the desired surrogacy as it is illegal in Italy “under all circumstances,” reports TheLocal.it.
Legal experts note the ruling has potential legal hangups for heterosexual couples as well since the ruling only refers to the “intended parent” – the partner who is not biologically related to the child. Sexual orientation was not explicitly mentioned in the ruling.
TheLocal.it reports that surrogacy has been viewed in the past as a “sex crime” by the Italian government.
In 2011, a child born to a heterosexual couple was ordered to be removed from the parents after it was discovered the child was born with the help of a Russian surrogate. Officials accused the parents of falsifying the birth certificate, and put the child up for adoption.
Adoption by gay couples is technically illegal in Italy since only married couple may adopt, and same-sex marriage is illegal.
But, according to TheLocal.it, “a number of same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt their partners’ children, while some regional authorities have recognized joint adoptions made abroad or permitted gay couples to register jointly as parents to children born of artificial insemination.”