Italy Backtracks Recognition of Same-Sex Parents

Italy Backtracks on Recognition of Twins' Non-Biological Dad

For more than two years, we’ve been following the case of two Italian dads, a gay couple, who became parents of twin boys via egg donation and surrogacy in Canada, a Canadian birth certificate listing both dads as legal fathers in hand.

After years of legal actions, in February 2017, the dads, who reside in the city of Trento, Italy, won their suit in the Trento Court of Appeal for both men to be recognized as their sons’ legal fathers. But last year, the Trento mayor and city prosecutor joined the Italian Ministry of Interior to challenge the ruling, as reported by The Local. On May 13, 2019, the Italian Court of Cassation overturned the Court of Appeal decision, ruling that only the father who is biologically related to the twins is their legal father; the other dad must apply for permission to adopt his own children.

As we have written before, Italy has among the most restrictive reproductive and parentage laws in the world. Surrogacy is not legal under any circumstances, nor is same-sex marriage, although same-sex couples may enter into civil unions. Adoption is limited to legally married couples, so no adoption for LGBT people, who are not allowed to marry. Yet frequently exceptions have been made, on case-by-case bases, allowing same-sex partners to adopt their partners’ children, or allowing same-sex couples to register as legal parents of a child conceived via in vitro fertilization. Tragically, legal experts say the precedent established in the recent ruling may make it harder for judges to foster such exceptions in the best interests of the children involved.

When intended parents travel abroad, have a baby or babies via a foreign surrogate, and then try to bring their babies home to Italy, their family falls into a legal “gray area.” As PinkNews reported, while the parents are not prosecuted, the process of legally registering the children and establishing parental authority is difficult and time-consuming.

The court justified its recent decision denying the fatherhood of the non-biological dad as intended to “protect the dignity of pregnant women and the institution of adoption,” The Local reports. Some observers said because the decision refers to “intended parent,” presumably including heterosexual intended parents, rather than narrowly focusing on same-sex intended parents, it is not anti-gay.

But it’s hard not to read an anti-gay bias into the effort, as the appeal was led by Matteo Salvini, head of the anti-gay Populist League Party, who has opposed parenting rights for LGBT people.

For now, the Trento dads and their sons have lost their bid to be recognized as a family, and it is uncertain, after a decade of legal battles, whether they will continue their appeals. If they do, next stop could be the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR), which over the past few years has issued several decisions in support of the rights of children born via assisted reproduction and their parents. We are optimistic that the principles of giving “full faith and credit” to the laws of other jurisdictions, of respect for the human rights of infants born via assisted reproduction, and of compassion for parents seeking equal legal status for their non-traditional, but very legitimate, families will ultimately prevail.

Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.