Rich Vaughn IFLG Blog: Italy Recognizes Gay Dads on Twins Birth Certificates

Landmark Italian Court Ruling Recognizes Gay Dads as Legal Parents

For the first time in history, an Italian court has recognized a same-sex couple as legal parents.

The gay male couple, who has not been identified, had twin boys seven years ago, born via a surrogate in Canada. In 2011, a Canadian court established both men as legal parents of the boys; however, their local bureau of vital statistics refused to honor the Canadian ruling and denied the fathers’ request to both be listed as fathers on their sons’ birth certificates.

According to a statement on this week’s ruling released by Italian attorney Alexander Schuster, who has represented the couple since 2009:

The ruling finds that foreign surrogacies bear no meaning on the protection that a child deserves and that there is no obstacle in giving full faith and credit to foreign decisions and birth certificates. The meaning of the decision is twofold. On one side, it clearly affirms that under Italian law parenthood does not need to rely solely on biology. The intention to become a parent establishes a fully-fledged parenthood. This principle applies to everyone, i.e., to straight and gay couples alike. On the other side, it also rejects the idea that men cannot cater for the love and care that children need. It is an important step towards gender equality when it comes to children care.

According to a report from The Telegraph:

In their decision, the judges said in Italy parental relationships should not be determined only by the biological link.

“On the contrary, one must consider the importance of parental responsibility, which is manifested in the conscious decision to raise and care for the child,” they said.

“This is a recognition of full parenthood, in other words, not adoption,” said the couple’s lawyer, Alexander Schuster. “It has recognized for the first time a foreign provision that gives the second father the status of a parent.”

As we wrote last month about a different case involving twins, Italy has among the most restrictive reproductive laws in the world:

Surrogacy is illegal, as are egg and sperm donation. Only heterosexual couples who are married or in “stable relationships” can legally conceive via IVF, and they must use their own eggs and sperm. Same-sex marriage is illegal, although a recently enacted law allows same-sex couples to register civil partnerships. Gay and lesbians are not allowed to adopt, not even their partners’ children.

During last year’s acrimonious campaign to pass Italy’s civil unions bill, the Catholic Church and conservative lawmakers opposed the measure, and Italy’s foreign minister, Angelino Alfano, said surrogacy should be treated as a “sex crime,” according to The Telegraph report.

In the wake of this decision, advocates for reproductive freedom and LGBT equality are celebrating the Italian appeals court’s decision. Cited in The Telegraph report, Marilena Grassadonia, president of gay parents’ group Famiglie Arcobaleno, or Rainbow Families, said, “In the absence of clear laws we hope now that all Italian courts follow the same path. It is the only way that we can safeguard our children.”

As attorney Schuster commented, one of the most significant aspects of this week’s ruling is the recognition of parental authority established by another nation. The ruling adheres to the “full faith and credit” principle that says a jurisdiction must uphold the legal judgments of a different jurisdiction. In the U.S., that principle is enshrined in the Constitution, and has been cited more than once in cases in attempting to establish the parenthood of children born via surrogacy in a state where surrogacy is legal, to parents who live in a state where surrogacy is not legal. The American Bar Association’s ART Committee, which I chair, has led efforts to establish international guidelines that would effectively extend the same principle to international governments.

Last month, we wrote about a case in which Italian authorities issued a decision that, in effect, twin boys born to gay fathers via surrogacy in California were not siblings. The surrogate who gave birth to the babies in California was implanted with eggs fertilized by both intended fathers; one twin is genetically related to one father, the other to the other father. Back home in Italy, the dads petitioned to both be listed as father on both boys’ birth certificates. But the office of vital statistics refused to list both men as dads; instead each could be listed as the father only of the son to whom he was genetically related. Even so, advocates considered that decision to be positive, in that Italy recognized the gay fathers as legal parents of their biologically related sons.

In Italy, the road to full equality for LGBT parents and for families formed through assisted reproduction remains long and fraught with obstacles, both legal and social. This week’s Italian ruling is an encouraging signal that, while the wheels of justice turn slowly, the journey is well underway.

The Italian press-release as well as the link to the judgment (in Italian) is available on




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.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343



New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016



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.