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Surrogacy 'should be treated like a sex crime', says Italian minister

11 January 2016

By Rebecca Carr

Appeared in BioNews 834

Italy's interior minister, Angelino Alfano, has said that people who use surrogacy should be treated as sex offenders and sent to prison, in the face of Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi's attempts to grant family rights to same-sex couples.

Alfano, who made the comments while speaking to Italy's Roman Catholic Avvenire newspaper, has argued the legislation will give rise to gay couples seeking children via surrogate mothers. He was reported saying: 'We want wombs-for-rent to become a universal crime, which is punished with a jail term, just as happens for sex crimes.'

Centre-left prime minister Renzi had promised the introduction of greater family rights, including the right for same-sex couples to adopt stepchildren in certain circumstances.

'Stepchild [adoption] really risks bringing the country closer to wombs-for-rent, towards the most vile, illegal trade that man has invented,' said Alfano. He added: 'If Italy has a law that allows stepchild adoption for gay couples, the day after we will start a huge collection of signatures for a repeal referendum. And I will be first in line.'

Alfano is the leader of Nuovo Centrodestra, the new centre-right party in Italy, which claims that any form of surrogacy represents a subversion of traditional family values.

Making or advertising surrogacy arrangements is currently is illegal in Italy and doing so is punishable by up to two years imprisonment as well as by hefty fines. Many same-sex couples therefore travel abroad in order to use surrogates. However, only one of the parents can currently be awarded with legal parental status when they eventually come to register their child in Italy, which is why many are calling for the prime minister's reforms.

Pressure to modernise its laws has also come from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), which in 2015 ordered Italy to pay compensation for removing a baby born to a surrogate mother in Russia from a couple who had moved to Italy.

Other aspects of Italy's law on assisted conception have been struck down both by its national courts and by the ECtHR. In April 2015, Italy's constitutional court declared a ban on using donated gametes in fertility treatment was unconstitutional (reported in BioNews 750) and in 2012 a ban on screening embryos using PGD for cystic fibrosis was held to be in violation of Article 8 by the ECtHR (reported in BioNews 671).

Italy is the only large western European country that does not recognise either marriage or civil partnerships between gay couples.

The bill is due to return to the Italian Parliament on 26 January 2016.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

13 February 2017 - by Dr Alice Margaria 
It is not the first time that a court has been called to rule on the recognition of family ties established between a male couple and their twins born from surrogacy abroad. But the recent ruling of the Court of Appeal of Milan has attracted particular interest because of its absurd consequences...
16 January 2017 - by Jennifer Willows 
Twin boys born to a same-sex couple through surrogacy do not have the legal status of brothers, according to an Italian court...

21 December 2015 - by Ayala Ochert 
The legislature in the Mexican state of Tabasco has voted to prevent foreign couples and gay men from having children via surrogacy...
07 December 2015 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
The results of the Surrogacy UK survey are in. Following an unprecedented response, the overwhelming message is that surrogacy law in the UK needs to be reformed...
19 October 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
India looks poised to introduce surrogacy legislation following several developments that could lead to a blanket ban on commercial surrogacy...
01 September 2015 - by Ana Ilic 
An injunction has been issued in Nepal to stop women from carrying surrogate pregnancies on behalf of foreigners...
06 July 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
One of France's highest courts ruled on Friday that children born to surrogates abroad have the right to have their births and citizenship recognised by the state...

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