True to her campaign promise to prioritise the traditional family in Italy, Giorgia Meloni has just announced the return of the terms ‘father’ and ‘mother’ on identity documents, where they had been replaced by the generic ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2.’
The battle over the naming of parents in Italian law has been going on for several years. The use of the terms ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’ was introduced in 2015 by the centre-left government of Matteo Renzi. In April 2019, Matteo Salvini, then minister of the interior, reversed this provision and reinstated the terms ‘father’ and ‘mother’ based on biological parenthood, prompting vigorous opposition from LGBT-rights groups and left-wing parties. A female same-sex couple filed an appeal with the court in Rome and, a month ago, obtained the cancellation of Salvini’s decree.
The couple that lodged the appeal felt they were victims of “discrimination” because they could not include ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’ on their child’s identity documents. The court in Rome ruled in their favour because of the risk of “distorting reality,” as a woman could be labelled as ‘father’ and a man as ‘mother’ with the existing forms.
The new minister for the family, in conjunction with the current minister of the interior, has decided to follow the path set out by Matteo Salvini and reinstate the wording ‘father’ and ‘mother,’ against the advice of the court in Rome. Homosexual couples will have no choice but to declare that they are a mother and a father. They can still appeal to have the words ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’ recognised, but this process will be left to the individual couples.
For Minister for the Family Eugenia Roccella, the decision of the court in Rome is not intended to have the force of law but should only apply to the couple who filed the appeal. Those who want different documents can always appeal. This is of course an obstacle for same-sex couples, as they have to be willing to engage in a legal battle and pay the costs involved.
However, there is a loophole: the 2019 decree, consolidated by the Meloni government, states that the mention of father and mother is compulsory for electronic identity cards but not for paper identity cards issued in emergency situations, for example for an unexpected trip abroad. Couples wishing to circumvent the decree will still be able to apply for an emergency ID card—provided they find a compliant municipal official willing to interpret the concept of ‘emergency’ broadly.
Meloni’s allies welcomed the decision to confirm the traditional terms. “Thanks to Meloni’s government, the words ‘father’ and ‘mother’ will remain on the civil status documents of children. A commonsense battle to defend the rights of the youngest,” said Fratelli d’Italia representative Alessio Butti, who is also undersecretary of the council of ministers. “Mum and dad, the most beautiful and sweetest words in the world, cannot be touched,” Salvini added.