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Italy refuses to register baby born to lesbian couple

23 April 2018
Appeared in BioNews 946

A lesbian couple in Italy has been asked to declare that their baby was naturally conceived in order to register him at the public records office. 

Chiara Foglietta, a municipal councillor for the city of Turin, gave birth to Niccolo Pietro on 13 April following artificial insemination in a Danish fertility clinic last year. But according to Italian law, Foglietta must claim her pregnancy resulted from sex with a man to get her son registered. 

'I don't want to give any false statements. My son has the right to know and hold his mothers to their responsibilities. This is the only way I have to protect him,' Foglietta told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. 

Foglietta and her partner Micaela Ghisleni planned to start a family and raise Niccolo together. However, although Italy legalised civil unions in 2016 for same-sex couples, they are not permitted to access fertility treatment. Assisted reproduction is extremely tightly regulated in Italy: screening or freezing of embryos, gamete donation and surrogacy are allowed only for heterosexual couples with clinically diagnosed infertility. 

Italian registry offices have to work within a set of guidelines that completely ignore the possibility that the pregnancy resulted from assisted reproduction. Women – even those who legally had treatment within Italy – are obliged to declare that birth derives from 'a natural union with a man' in order to complete the registration. 

'I am aware no-one at the public records office can take this responsibility, but I expected the Turin mayor or the equal opportunity commissioner Marco Giusta to intervene in this case,' said Foglietta.

Turin's mayor, Chiara Appendino, who sent flowers to the couple, said: 'The law currently does not provide for recognition of the sons and daughters of homosexual couples born in Italy. Personally I am in favour and willing to proceed with registration, but with this current legal vacuum the rights of the parents and children cannot be guaranteed.'

Appendino said she was committed to act on the issue, and plans to work with all the relevant institutions, local authorities and associations to find a resolution.

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