Giorgia Meloni’s gay parenting bill is unconservative
Limiting parental rights will further break up families
Italy is beginning to crack down on gay parenting rights. After Poland and Hungary, it is now the only EU country that forbids gay couples from adopting children.
In 2016, Italy legalised same-sex civil unions under a centre-Left government, but pressure from Catholic and conservative groups prevented legally granting them adoption rights.
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Some critics argued at the time that this ban on adoption would lead gay couples seeking surrogacy — whether commercial or altruistic — abroad, which is illegal in Italy. It is considered a criminal act, punishable with up to two years in prison and €1 million in fines, with the country’s law stating that the woman who bears the child in her womb is legally its mother.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is now pushing for a bill to make surrogacy a universal crime. This means that if gay couples with Italian citizenship seek surrogacy in foreign countries where it is legal, and then return to Italy seeking parental rights, they risk the same harsh punishment. Though the law is difficult to enforce, it is testament to the increasingly intolerant approach Italy’s government is adopting towards gay couples.
Up until recently, there were regulatory loopholes in which same-sex couples could return with children legally recognised abroad via local administrations. But the centre-Left mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, was prohibited from continuing this practice with a letter sent by the Ministry of the Interior citing Italy’s highest court, claiming that the legal recognition of parental status required court approval. Children of gay couples are thus left in a legal limbo, as they are denied the right to have both parents recognised on their birth certificate. The EU has attempted to enforce a law that made recognition of gay parents applicable to the entire bloc, but it was blocked by Italy’s senate.
Stripping children from the legal status of their parents because of surrogacy performed abroad, including with gay parents, is a dangerous proposition. It means denying children the status and security that comes with having two parents. In extreme cases, should the legal parent pass away, the child would risk being transported to an orphanage, with the second non-legal parent having to attempt emergency adoption. If both parents were found guilty of seeking surrogacy abroad and were punished with prison time, the child would risk having no parents at all.
More fundamentally, Meloni’s push to strip gay couples of parental recognition is a distinctly unconservative move. The fact is that it will result in a further break-up of family life, which is something to which the Italian PM is meant to be opposed. In the context of Italy’s rapidly declining birth rate, such strict laws on surrogacy won’t induce the birth of more children: quite the opposite. This measure should be strongly opposed.
In what possible way is this article advocating for a viewpoint that is “unherd”? The author’s view is going to be pretty much the sacred unquestionable viewpoint of every single media, political and social organisation in this country and much of the West. The few institutions that still laugh, increasingly with a note of either panic or despair, at the clear disingenuity of the phrase ‘children of gay couples’, can probably be counted on one hand.
Gay couples cannot, by nature, have children. That’s not bigotry, it’s just the way it is. So they either have to adopt or use surrogacy/sperm donation so that they can play happy families. Whether you think they should ‘have the right’ to acquire human life to fit their lifestyle choice in this way (and thereby in many cases deny the child a real mother or father) is the question this article should have been pondering.
Gay couples have children. Keep up.
Also, would love the OP to expand on their definition of a ‘real’ parent.
If an article here NEEDS some specific criteria to be Unherd then the idea of creating a law that is intrinsically anti family and therefore deeply strange for Italian culture and which consequently could be used way beyond its original remit surely qualifies?
“Gay couples cannot, by nature, have children. That’s not bigotry, it’s just the way it is. So they either have to adopt or use surrogacy/sperm donation so that they can play happy families.”
You could have finished that with “be families”. Your deliberate implication that gay couples can’t actually be a family shows your prejudice.
no, just fact
What is the Unherd viewpoint?
There’s plenty of crappy parents out there. We should be more concerned about that, than the sex of the couple.
Unherd is a pluralist outlet. Not opposing certain viewpoints for the sake of it
The article may be insane indeed, but one could argue that this proves the pluralist point of Unheard. Though it’s very narrow and biased it still is a point of view. Possibly not even ‘a point of view’, since there is a lot of staff been written due to professional commitment, rather than been an honest opinion. Opinions can change. Commitments of any kind, not so easily. Still, Unherd may be proving over pluralist by publishing these voices.
It feels ugly lowering the author. I always like to show respect to every person. It is only that some times some opinions are so “off earth” that they better be put off all the way.
In best feelings to all. Happy 1st of May..!
Agreed, it is not a sin when a columnist has the same viewpoint of the mass media. It is not that the mass media is always wrong. Nowadays, the mass media is full of irrelevant tripe to avoid genuine issues. Bread and Circuses!
But if you wanted to hear the viewpoint expressed in the article you can go on any other website for MSM to hear it. I don’t think it is what most people pay their subs for here. Also, as other comments have pointed out, the article doesn’t have an original take and ignores key factors (such as that this affects mostly straight people) while making the point.
Who are you to challenge anyone’s right to a fashion accessory?
Being allowed to raise one’s biological child is hardly any kind of right either. Does Italy need more Italian children or not? Let’s just end the lives of all children who don’t have both biological parents in their life. That would prevent the existence of children without both biological parents
author is conflating here “gay couples rights” with the right of buying a baby through surrogacy. very astute indeed.
while it’s true that banning them from adopting is a frontal attack on them (something I find unacceptable, by the way), it’s also true that surrogacy is used mostly by non gay couples. Forbidding this abhorrent practice can’t be an attack on gay couples.
having children is not a human right which needs to be guaranteed by the State. If you can’t conceive…. well, life is hard I guess..?
Plenty of adoption/foster children out there looking for a good home.
I am not sure what planet I am meant to be on when opposing same-sex couples raising someone else’s child is ‘unconservative’.
Ok.So in which (or whose) planet is banning gay couples from raising children considered being “conservative”? In fact all relevant research agrees that being raised in ANY family is far better for children than no family or being raised in an orphanage.
What part of ‘buying children is immoral’ do you think is incorrect?
Honest question. How is surrogacy immoral?
Why is buying children immoral?
I asked an honest question and this is your answer? I really don’t have strong feelings about the issue either way. You’re not exactly winning me over with your compelling arguments.
This might even be a good argument if people were reselling the children, or enslaving them. It seems to me that loving people, who can’t have children for whatever reason, are the ones using surrogates.
In California there’s actually a market for women who don’t have time to be pregnant nor want their bodies stretched out and therefore pay other women to carry their babies. The Guardian had an article about this a few years ago:
The traditional (conservative, if you like) view is that children are best raised by their natural mother and father. That’s not complicated or controversial. Children being raised by two people of the same sex is at best second best, although two women are probably better than two men (at least in the early years).
I think, R, that we need to focus less attention on labels such as “conservative” or “liberal” (which are notoriously changeable in any case) and more attention on the actual matter at hand. Instead of proposing a solution to this conflict with the implicit goal of being dutifully conservative, let alone of being seen that way for rhetorical or political purposes, Alessandra Bocchi should have done so with the goal of intellectual or moral independence and coherence whatever the label that others use to describe, support or oppose it. I happen to make choices often (though not always) that most people consider conservative, but I don’t believe that conservatism or any school of thought is an end in itself. And if that puts me on the frontier between conservatism and liberalism or some other ism, then so be it.
By the way, this very preoccupation with political and academic labels did no service to readers of Patrick Deneen’s article on free speech–that is, to those who actually had an interest in free speech as distinct from a preoccupation with the intellectual lineage of John Stuart Mill and his followers or adversaries.
Your question deserves an answer nonetheless. Bocchi is trying to argue that one reason for supporting surrogacy and adoption for gay couples is that doing so keeps parents and children together, which affirms the family as a valuable institution. Because those who identify themselves as conservatives (or are identified that way by others) insist on the inherent and universal need for families, it would follow that not keeping parents and children together would undermine the family and is therefore “unconservative.”
What she fails to say, however, is that the word “family” now has at least two conflicting definitions. I suggest that children who have either two mothers or two fathers–and therefore lack either a mother or a father–do not have families that serve their needs adequately. In unusual cases due to death, abandonment or separation, communities can fill in for missing parents and have always done so. But when those cases become the norm, both statistically and legally, then the new phenomenon takes on a life of its own. Some people would reply to me that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, of course, and therefore that having both male and female parents can make no difference to children. After all, no one argues that gay people cannot love children and sacrifice for children. But parenting requires more than providing children with love no matter how altruistically (let alone providing them with material resources).So, if you think that mothers and fathers actually have distinct functions, as I do, then it would follow that opposing both gay marriage (with children) and single parenting (by choice) are not in the best interest of children and therefore do not support the family.
Some people see me as an ally, because I support their conservative cause. Others don’t, because my being gay is alien to their conservative worldview. Either way, I don’t really care. What I do care about is supporting the family in a society that now insists not only on redefining the family continually (even its biological foundation) but also on deconstructing it and therefore destroying it (along with ever other institution) in the name of some utopian ideal.
Very well argued. I don’t agree on every point you raise (and there are many!) but i certainly concur on your initial point regarding the use of labels in articles, which are often used as a poor substitute for substance.
The ideal may be a loving mother and father raising a family, but back in the real world, we have way way too many children being raised by single parents, and we have dangerously declining birth rates.
I agree that labels are not always correctly applied. But this particular problem is part of the wider issue of distorting well established meaning of words and concepts.
So, I have no problem with gay or lesbian couples having equivalent financial status to mix sex couples regarding inheritance etc.
That is why civil partnership was established.
But then “progressive” lobby started demanding marriage rights, which is Orwellian abuse of the meaning of the word.
Another example is gay Christian.
Bible is quite clear that sodomy is mortal sin.
As lapsed Catholic I don’t particularly care, but I find it really annoying when “gay Christians” insist that we should disregard scripture to accommodate their lifestyle.
Go and set up your own religion.
It is not just gay but women insisting on being priests.
Either you believe in Church teaching or not?
It’s true that changing institutions can be very disconcerting and disappointing, especially when the changes can be traced to intellectual or political fashions. This is not a new problem for religious communities, which have always adapted to new ideas or new circumstances–but seldom as quickly and cravenly as many now do in the face of secularism.
But your either-or approach to religion, Andrew, would require human perfection of the kind that no religion actually requires or even recognizes as possible. What all of these traditions do require is the acknowledgment of human finitude or of human inadequacy in this or that way–which is to say, in Christian parlance, sinfulness (which leaves open at least the possibility of repentance).
Among Catholics, for instance, this point of view is not modern or even recent. It originated just after the Roman persecution of Christians from 249 to 250. Some ecclesiastical authorities argued that the Church should not accept lapsed Christians, who had become apostates under pressure and wanted to rejoin the Christian community. But those authorities, the Donatists, lost the debate. The Church accepted those lapsed members and all repentant sinners. Otherwise there would be no need for the Church, after all, let alone for Christ’s atoning self-sacrifice. Medieval Catholics said that divine grace is like the dew; falling on everyone alike and offering the possibility of redemption to everyone alike (a notion that appears in more than one movie that Ingmar Bergman set in the Middle Ages). To this day, the Church teaches that all people are sinners and therefore in need of divine grace.
That’s true not only for all of its laypeople, moreover, but for all of its clergy, all of its saints and yes, even all of its popes. Saints are exemplary figures in one way or another, to be sure, but not in all ways. Priests are not perfect, either, and not necessarily even morally superior to others. Their vocation is to serve as conduits of divine grace through the sacraments, not as models of perfection. (Some Protestants are less generous in this regard.) This is why the sacraments are efficacious no matter how sinful the priest.
So, I doubt that any Catholic bishop would bar you from the Church community for failing to accept (in private) every one of its teachings. Even public disobedience by influential leaders (such as Nancy Pelosi) might result in temporary inaccessibility of the eucharist, not necessarily excommunication. The decision, to stay (and benefit from the community) or leave (and maintain intellectual purity), is yours, Andrew.
I honestly don’t see how restricting homosexuals from adopting “will result in a further break-up of family life”.
The author seems to have her own idea of what conservatism entails. I am not sure many conservative would share her view.
It’s what one might call muddying the waters, confusing two issues to make it more palatable.
Surely this is more a case of the Catholic Church reasserting it’s dominance in Italy!
Remind me when it became acceptable to buy human beings.
The Brits (as a Nation) decided it UNacceptable just a few hundred years ago but it’s still acceptable in other places in the world. The Americans (Yanks) even fought a civil war over it. Americans (Yanks) may not get the same nuances that your comment might suggest.
In the UK, parents don’t have rights; they have responsibilities. This is the legal protection (PR) which guarantees the child its rights under UNCRC.
Just want to point out that technical, but significant, difference in framing.
I think gay couples should be allowed to adopt. I think surrogacy, commercial or altruistic, is child trafficking and should be illegal regardless of the sexual orientation of those who want to buy babies. There is no human right to parenthood. This article is a bait and switch conflation.
This isn’t about “gays” at all.
Commercial surrogacy (effectively designer baby buying) should be illegal across the board. It is overwhelmingly exploitive of the poor, fosters abuse, and an affront to human dignity. We don’t allow people to sell kidneys (even though we all have an extra one). Why is renting wombs any different?
The fact that Italy is the only Western country that acknowledges this is an indictment of the moral compass of the rest of the West, not of Italy.
Why is it exploitive of poor in comparison to children digging minerals to make electric car batteries?
So some virtue signalling idiots can parade their green credentials?
If some poor women can make equivalent of 10 years earnings by having someone’s baby, where is the harm?
Let’s consider her other options before judging ….
The mental state of children born through surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation needs to be considered. The psychological impact of being conceived by any of these means can’t be ignored. The selfishness of the “parents” has to be weighed against all other considerations.
What is mainly means is that those children are very much wanted, rather than the result of intercourse following which one or more of the parents may just regret the resulting pregnancy.
Absolutely they are very much wanted… so much so that and consideration of the psychological health of the future child is secondary at best. Comparison to unwanted pregnancies is a flimsy argument.
What is the psychological impact of surrogacy?
It’s well documented that children conceived or born via any of these unnatural means have issues later in life regardless of the love and affection of their nurturing parents. Some search for their genetic relatives and their efforts are not always welcomed… even being outright rejected. Some suffer from feelings of separateness… that they are disconnected or different. These are just a couple of common examples. There are many more.
Keep in mind that children born via surrogacy are not always genetically related to one or both of the nurturing parents.
IDK. I did a quick search and there was some concern that kids might struggle with identity in their teens, but nothing I saw that was overly troubling. Very quick search though. All teenagers struggle with identify. I would think the quality of their parenting would play a role in how the deal with it
I am bored rigid by tedious gay whining…
What are “gay parenting rights” supposed to be?
What is the “family life” supposed to be, that in this account will suffer a “further break-up”?
Presumably the EU will now get involved, and Ursula von der Leyen will start using her “tools”.
Ask a middle school teacher, whose kids they would rather teach. Whose kids are better behaved. Whose parents will actually show up on parents night.
Maybe gay couples should be allowed to adopt children. Maybe surrogacy should be allowed. But the only people who should be named on the birth certificate as parents are those who are believed to be the actual biological parents.
What’s best for the child should be the primary question. Probably vast majority would contend that this ideally means a loving mother and father. But what if that’s not easily on offer? A loving gay couple must be better than the orphanage.
Surrogacy then almost a separate philosophical question – but if it’s ok with a man & woman to receive this help to form a family, why not the gay couple? I struggle to find a reason why not if we allow gay couples to adopt and save a child from an orphanage. (What I would add is every child should have the right to know details of their biological parent when they turn a certain age.)
The key issue isn’t it, if we really care about children, is how do we try to ensure they all have a loving family upbringing and the opportunity to make the most of their talents. That’s far harder and gets us much more into how we support struggling parents and kids raised in abusive homes often with poverty a key component. So tough in fact we’ll probably prefer to argue about Gay rights instead.
So this law could be applied to all parents who attempt surrogacy or even adoption?
surrogacy and adoption don’t go in the same box. not close, not even remotely.
and yes, Italy has effectively banned surrogacy for everyone. Probably the most feminist policy they never thought they could put in place
I don’t get it. As long as their actions don’t harm others, why are we imposing our morality on gay couples? Of all the social and economic issues facing Italy today, I would think this is pretty low on the priority list.
Is everything permitted? And if so, why not the law in question?
I don’t understand. Things aren’t permitted if they encroach on other people. If a gay couple want kids, what business is that of mine?
“Other people” includes children conceived by unnatural means.
Society has a responsibility to protect its weakest members, especially those who don’t have a voice and can’t speak for themselves.
But they do encroach on other people – not least the child in question. So it should be your business.
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