Rome holds LGBTQ+ Pride parade amid backdrop of Meloni government crackdown on surrogate births

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ROME (AP) — Rome’s annual LGBTQ+ Pride parade wound its way through the Italian capital on Saturday, providing a colorful counterpoint to the national government’s crackdown on surrogate pregnancies and same-sex parents.

About three dozen floats joined the event, including one celebrating what LGBTQ+ activists dub the “rainbow families” of same-sex couples with children.

Earlier this year, the government headed by far-right Premier Giorgia Meloni told municipal officials, when recording births, to register only the biological parent, and not the other parent in a same-sex couple.

Among those defying that order was Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, who came to the parade a day after he said he transcribed “with emotion and conviction,” the birth certificates of children who had been born abroad to same-sex couples.

Gualtieri said he had registered the birth certificates of a boy, born in France, whose parents are an Italian woman and a French woman, and of a girl, born in England, whose parents are two Italian-English women.

By doing so, “we guarantee to the children the recognition of Italian citizenship, with its related rights, and, to the mothers, their full obligations” to their children, Gualtieri wrote on Facebook. He is a prominent member of the opposition Democratic Party.

Such registration automatically enables the non-biological parent to do a range of parental actions, from authorizing medical treatment for the child to picking the child up from school without special permission.

The government's comfortable majority in Parliament recently approved, at the preparatory commission level, a bill that would make it a crime for any Italian to use surrogacy, even abroad, to have a child. Debate in Parliament on the bill is slated to start later this month, with no date yet set for a vote on it by lawmakers.

Italy allows same-sex civil unions but not marriage. Italy also doesn't allow its citizens who are single to adopt children.

One of the thousands of Pride participants, Emma Ascoli, a 30-year-old musician, noted that some other nations allow surrogate births and that "also heterosexual people resort to surrogacy, but until it wasn't something related to LGBT people's right, it was a non-issue.”

Among opposition politicians joining the Pride event was Sen. Alessandra Maiorino, of the populist 5-Star Movement.

“We maintain that in this circumstance, it's important to give support that is is visible, given that the LGBT community is under attack,” the Italian news agency quoted the senator as saying.

Pride events aim to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities and to protest against attacks on hard-won civil rights gains.

Italy's courts at times have ordered municipal officials to register both members of a sex-same couple as the legal parents of a child born abroad. And the nation's courts have repeatedly urged lawmakers to update legislation to reflect changing social norms.


Rebecca Preciutti contributed to this report.