EU parliament slams Italy’s clampdown on same-sex couples’ rights

Members of the EU parliament on Thursday demanded that Italy's government "rescind its decision" after the country's interior ministry ordered Milan to stop registering the children of same-sex families.

EU parliament symbol
Members of the EU Parliament on Thursday asked Italy's government to revoke a directive which prevents town halls from registering the children of same-sex couples. Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni came to power last year after a campaign during which she placed a strong emphasis on traditional family values.

Earlier this month, the government made moves to restrict gay parents’ rights.

Milan had been registering children of same-sex couples conceived overseas through surrogacy, which is illegal in Italy, or medically assisted reproduction, which is only available to heterosexual couples.

But its centre-left mayor Beppe Sala said this had stopped after the interior ministry sent a letter insisting that the courts must decide.

READ ALSO: Milan stops recognising children born to same-sex couples

Members of the European Parliament said they feared the Milan move was “part of a broader attack against the LGBTQI+ community in Italy”.

They urged the Italian government to “immediately rescind its decision” in an amendment to a 2022 report on the rule of law in the EU put forward by Renew Europe group of centrist and liberal MEPs.

They said the “decision will inevitably lead to discrimination against not only same-sex couples, but also primarily their children”, adding it was “a direct breach of children’s rights” under a UN convention.

Sala came to Brussels to seek MEPs’ support during a session on Wednesday and Thursday.

Italy legalised same-sex civil unions in 2016, but opposition from the Catholic Church meant it stopped short of granting gay couples the right to adopt.

Decisions were made on a case-by-case basis by the courts as parents took legal action, although some local authorities decided to act unilaterally, including Milan.

Family law is decided by each member state but the European Commission in December presented a proposal that would force every country in the bloc to recognise parents’ rights granted in another nation.

The plan would protect children of same-sex families travelling within the EU.

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Italy scraps abuse of office crime as opposition cries foul

Italy's magistrates and opposition parties denounced the repeal of the crime of abuse of office on Thursday, calling it a gift to the mafia and corrupt officials.

Italy scraps abuse of office crime as opposition cries foul

The decriminalisation measure was part of a package of justice reforms that passed the Chamber of Deputies by 199 votes to 102 on Wednesday.

The reform was spearheaded by Forza Italia, the party founded by former premier Silvio Berlusconi – whose long political career was marked by endless legal cases and accusations of cronyism and corruption.

READ ALSO: What are the controversial reforms Italians are protesting against?

Promoters of the reform argued that the law deterred public officials from making decisions involving tenders out of fear of being accused of abuse of office.

They also pointed to the fact that 80 percent of legal proceedings involving the crime were dismissed, and innocent officials disgraced.

The Italian legal code will retain anti-corruption laws linked to public contracts, though more restrictively worded.

“Illicit behaviour will continue to be prosecuted – there are still instruments in the penal code,” said Mariastella Gelmini, a former minister under Berlusconi who is now in a small centrist party.

READ ALSO: Rome in push to decriminalise abuse of office despite corruption fears

Also voting for the reform was the far-right Brothers of Italy and League parties, headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini respectively.

Three centrist parties also voted for the reform.

The Democratic Party, the Five Star Movement and the Greens and Left Alliance voted against it, holding up posters in parliament on Wednesday reading “Impunity for white-collar workers, shame on you!”

The respected former anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho told the Corriere della Sera daily on Wednesday that citizens reporting public corruption “will no longer be protected by the law”.

“The citizen who must report the violation of the rules of a tender, or the bypassing of a hospital’s waiting lists or the illegal concession given to a neighbour to build where he couldn’t, will no longer have criminal protection,” he said.

He said that while serving as a prosecutor in Calabria – a poor southern region whose powerful ‘Ndrangheta mafia is notorious for infiltrating public institutions and rigging tenders – “the mayors told us that thanks to the abuse of office [crime], they could say no to the ‘Ndrangheta’.”

“They said they couldn’t break the rules or they would be convicted.”