Lesbian mums in Italy ‘living in fear’ as government strips names from birth certificates

Michela and Viola with their child

A lesbian mum who has been left devastated by the removal of her name from her baby’s birth certificate has called on the Italian government to “think of the families [left living in] fear”. 

Michela Leidi’s wife Viola gave birth to their daughter, now 13 months old, following medically assisted procreation in Spain.

While Viola carried the baby, Michela says she was “there this whole time emotionally and we were physically together”.

But after receiving a letter from the government in January, the couple, who live in the northern city of Bergamo, are now fighting the toughest battle of their marriage: getting Michela’s name back on their baby’s birth certificate.

The letter came shortly before right-wing populist PM Giorgia Meloni announced in March that state agencies should no longer register the children of same-sex couples.

“We don’t want to live in fear,” Michela told PinkNews, revealing that the policy has led her to attempt to adopt their child, despite feeling unsure of the outcome. 

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“It’s a very lengthy and costly process. We’re ready together to fight for it,” she said. 

Michela has called on the Italian government to “think of the families,” adding that their daughter calls the couple “mummas”, the plural of mum, which is totally normal to her. 

“This is something the government don’t think about. I’m inviting the government to create a law that will stop this mess and save kids from this in the future. I don’t want to feel forced to leave Italy but no one should be forced to do this.” 

‘We are just like any other family’

After receiving the letter, Michela and Viola, who were among the first in Italy to be targeted by the attack on same-sex parenting and lesbian mums, attempted unsuccessfully to overturn the removal of Michaela’s name from the birth certificate. 

A state prosecutor told the couple that the inclusion of Michela’s name was “’contrary to public order” because she didn’t carry their baby.

“Italy is still behind culturally and the government isn’t helping,” Michela said.

It had been “devastating for them” to know she wouldn’t be recognised on the birth certificate, she added.

Due to the government’s anti-LGBTQ+ views she felt “fear” and “sadness” when Viola fell pregnant. 

“We are just like any other family who try to raise children together,” the mum said, becoming emotional and teary-eyed as she spoke.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has a long history of supporting right-wing policies. (Getty)
Prime minister Giorgia Meloni’s policy targets lesbian mothers. (Getty)

“We’re a family as all other families. We’re happy, we see friends and have support from our family.” 

Under the policy, which is not law but is decided upon by local mayors, Michela needs permission from Viola should she want parental responsibilities.

The couple have spoken to other lesbian mums who have all said it’s difficult for them to go through this. 

“They are all living in fear that this could happen to them,” Michela said. 

‘Many people that think this is absurd and are against it’

The two mums have been to “With the Pen in Your Hand” protests in nearby Milan – with the pen being a symbol of what’s needed to sign birth registrations – to call on others to stand against the policy,

“This is a duty for everyone in Italy to sign against because imagine if someone has become a parent, then gets removed from their duty to be a parent. There are many people who think this is absurd and are against it,” Michela added. 

Pro-LGBTQ+ Italian politicians have condemned the legislation, arguing that it’s clearly discriminatory, and The Human Rights Watch said: “Italy should immediately reinstate the women removed from their children’s birth certificates and drop its ban on the registration of children born to same-sex couples.

“Authorities should pass inclusive parental-recognition bills that explicitly recognise the legal parenthood of non-gestational lesbian parents.”

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