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The Fertility Show


Swiss and Italian courts move towards parental rights for same-sex couples

01 September 2014

By Antony Blackburn-Starza

Appeared in BioNews 769

Judges in two European countries with restrictive laws governing IVF and surrogacy have taken steps towards recognising non-biological parents in same-sex relationships as the legal parents of children born through assisted conception.

A regional court in Switzerland has recognised two men as the legal parents of a child born via a surrogacy arrangement with a woman in the USA, despite operating a ban on surrogacy. The men, one of whom is the child's biological father, sought to have the child's Californian birth certificate recognised by the Swiss federal authorities.

The certificate was issued after a Californian court found that the surrogate mother and her husband, who under Swiss law would be recognised as the child's legal parents, did not want to exercise their parental rights or have responsibility for the child. Karin Hochl, the lawyer for the two men, said: 'The administrative court recognised the American judgment'.

Gay Star News says that despite having a good record for LGBT rights, Switzerland still prevents same-sex couples from adopting children and donor sperm can only be used by married couples. The Swiss federal authorities have not yet indicated if they will appeal the decision.

Elsewhere, a court in Rome has granted permission for the female partner of a biological mother to become a co-parent by adopting the child born via fertility treatment received abroad. It said it was acting in the best interests of the child and granted the woman the right to appeal a decision against her adoption application.

Italy does not legally recognise same-sex relationships and gay couples were until now were also prevented from adopting children. It also bans access to IVF for same-sex couples and single people. However, restrictions on IVF using donor sperm or eggs were declared 'unconstitutional' by the constitutional court last April (reported in BioNews 750). Since then, a court in Bologna has granted a couple the right to use donors in IVF treatment.

Commenting on the Rome decision, the Mario Mieli Society for Gay Culture welcomed the ruling, saying: 'We applaud the court which, with this ruling, has anticipated the law and recognised that this child, born to a gay couple, has the same rights as any other child'. Some campaigners are, however, arguing that a ban on IVF should remain for same-sex couples.

The Local (Italy) | 29 August 2014
Gay Star News | 30 August 2014
Swiss Info | 26 August 2014
The Local (Switzerland) | 25 August 2014
Gat Star News | 28 August 2014


07 September 2015 - by Dr Melanie Levy and Professor Vardit Ravitsky 
Switzerland upholds stricter legislation on assisted reproduction and prenatal genetic testing than most European countries. However, recent regulatory changes demonstrate a possible shift towards a more liberal approach....

18 August 2014 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
An Italian judge has ordered that two children born following an embryo mix-up at a Rome fertility clinic should reside with the birth mother and not with the twins' biological parents....
14 April 2014 - by Siobhan Chan 
Italy's constitutional court has lifted a ban on the use of donor sperm and eggs for assisted conception, saying it was 'unconstitutional'...
03 September 2012 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
Italy has violated the rights of a couple carrying cystic fibrosis by preventing them from screening embryos using PGD, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled. The Strasbourg-based court ordered the Italian government to pay the couple 17,500 euros in damages and expenses....
28 June 2010 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Couples from Italy are at the top of the list of foreign couples seeking fertility treatment abroad, researchers report today at the 26th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), in Rome...

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