The Italian ruling conservative coalition is pushing for a new law that would criminalize couples who travel abroad to have a baby via surrogacy, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from LGBT activists who see it as a blatant attack on gay couples. Parenting via surrogacy is already illegal in Italy, and the new law sponsored by the Brothers of Italy and the League would make it a crime even to seek surrogacy in countries where it is legal, such as the United States or Canada. The bill, which parliament will begin debating on Thursday, is part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s socially conservative agenda, which includes opposing “gender ideology” and “the LGBT lobby.”
LGBT activists say that the proposed law would be extremely difficult to enforce, as it would criminalize a practice that is legal and regulated by strict laws in other countries. Alessia Crocini, head of Famiglie Arcobaleno (Rainbow Families), an association that represents same-sex parents, pointed out that 90% of Italian couples who resort to surrogacy abroad are heterosexual, but mostly do it in secret, pretending their child was born naturally, which gay couples cannot do. The reform would be “problematic in terms of international law,” she said.
This latest move by the Italian government is part of a trend that has LGBT activists worried about the erosion of civil rights. Last week, the government ordered Milan’s city council to stop registering children from same-sex couples, sparking protests. LGBT leaders have expressed concerns that Prime Minister Meloni’s conservative agenda may lead to a rollback of legislation on abortion and same-sex civil partnerships.
The push to criminalize surrogacy abroad has been met with fierce criticism, with some lawmakers going so far as to compare it to pedophilia. Federico Mollicone, a lawmaker from the Brothers of Italy party, said in a TV interview that “surrogacy is definitely a serious crime… more serious than pedophilia.” Critics say that such rhetoric is dangerous and inflammatory, and only serves to further stigmatize the LGBT community.
Despite the backlash, the ruling coalition seems determined to press ahead with its socially conservative agenda. The debate over the surrogacy bill is set to begin on Thursday, and LGBT activists are bracing for a tough fight. Many worry that if the bill passes, it will set a dangerous precedent and further marginalize the LGBT community in Italy.