The Italian Debate on Civil Unions and Same-Sex Parenthood: The Disappearance of Lesbians, Lesbian Mothers, and Mothers

Daniela Danna


This article presents the political debate on the legal recognition of same-sex couples and same-sex parenthood in Italy. It focuses on written sources such as documents and historiography of the LGBT movement (so called since the time of the World Pride 2000 event in Rome), and a press review covering the years 2013-2016.

The aim of this reconstruction is to show if and how sexual difference, rather important in matters of procreation, has been talked about within this context. The overwhelming majority of same-sex parents in couples are lesbians, but, as will be shown, lesbians have been seldom mentioned in the debate (main source: a press survey). In particular, lesbian mothers soon disappeared from the debates on same-sex parenthood, and the mothers themselves were canceled with the endorsement by the majority of the LGBT movement of the subrogation of motherhood, where a woman becoming a mother is called and treated like a ‘carrier’ (as stated in the US contracts regulating surrogate motherhood).

The debate started with the first proposal on civil unions (not mentioning parenthood) by Arcigay in 1987, until their introduction with the law 76/2016, also not considering parenthood. The debate is presented with more details when it came before Parliament in 2015 and 2016, highlighting stepchild adoption and surrogacy. Stepchild adoption is still only for heterosexual re-married couples, although courts grant shared parenthood for both gays and lesbians.


LGBT movement, civil unions, same-sex parenthood

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