The move to favour heterosexual parents was one of Salvini's earliest pledges upon taking office earlier this year, following an election campaign in which he and his League party played to a socially conservative base.
Current application forms for the new electronic Italian ID cards for minors ask for the name of “parent 1” and “parent 2”, which on request can be added to the card itself, notably to make it easier for parents to travel abroad with their children using an ID card instead of a passport.
Salvini called for those designations to be replaced with gender-specific terms throughout, including a clause that requires the application on behalf of under-14s to be submitted in person by both parents, or failing that with the written permission of the parent absent.
But the Data Protection Authority ruled against the move, expressing concern that it would result in the needless collection of personal information that might be irrelevant to the child's family situation.
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Same-sex couples, for instance, would have to give the details of a biological parent who may or may not have any involvement in their child's life. Furthermore, depending on the child's age, they could find herself having to seek that parent's written permission or even their presence in order to obtain the child's ID. And if they wanted to travel abroad with their young child, only the parent listed on the ID card could do so without having to prove their relationship to them.
The National Office against Racial Discrimination, Unar, seconded the Data Protection Authority's concerns and said the change risked leading to “unequal treatment” and violations of privacy.
Salvini, however, remained defiant. “We're going ahead, there's no privacy that overrides a child's right to have a mother and father,” the minister commented.
Since Salvini took the League into government in coalition with the Five Star Movement, conservative Catholics have been given prominent government roles – notably new Families Minister Lorenzo Fontana, who upon his appointment swiftly declared that same-sex parents “don't exist at the moment, as far as the law is concerned” and expressed his preference for what he called “natural” families with one mother and one father.
Another League member, Senator Simone Pillon, has proposed sweeping reforms to Italy's divorce and custody laws that opponents fear will make it harder for women to leave marriages and place survivors of domestic abuse at continued risk.
While Italy does not recognize gay marriage or the parental rights it would guarantee, at a local level various Italian cities have begun allowing same-sex couples to legally register their children to both parents, a move towards de facto acknowledgement.
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP