Italy: Women Parliamentarians Seek to Change Rules on Surnames

The Italian parliament will consider 13 bills next week to change the law that prohibits newborns from receiving any name but the father’s surname, unless the father’s identity is unknown. Italian women MPs (members of Parliament) have introduced various alternatives to this patriarchal law, including allowing parents to choose which surname their children receive, or establishing a system like Spain’s that gives a newborn both parents’ surnames, according to the Italian news service ANSA.

The law was challenged in February by a couple in Milan who wanted to give their daughter the mother’s surname. Though the Constitutional Court called the law “a remnant of a patriarchal conception of the family inconsistent with equality of the sexes,” it ruled that it could not overturn the law in this case, as did Italy’s highest appeals court in May, according to the Guardian. Both the Constitutional Court and Italy’s Supreme Court have called upon parliament to change the law.


ANSA 8/28/06; Guardian 8/30/06

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