Brussels, 27 April 2022 – Newborn in Italy will no longer be given their father’s last name automatically. From now on by rule the baby will have last names of both parents furthermore a woman will be able to give only her surname to her newborn kids if the father of the baby agrees.
In the country that made of the ‘pater familias’ the backbone of the society and the prominent maschilism, and misogyny, the Italian dominant culture, today’s Constitutional Court’s verdict certainly represents a revolution.
Until today, being denied the right to give her last name to her children put females in a diminished position and role firstly within the family: a son is more desired than a daughter because he will ensure the survival of father’s family tree, meaning being able to give his last name to his children.
More widely hundreds of thousands of Italian enterprises bear the family name and are, in the most cases, automatic inheritance of the sons, preferably the eldest ones, due to centuries of medieval agricultural tradition ingrained in the Italian culture.
Though the ancient law of the ‘closed farm’ (legge del maso chiuso; maggiorascato, the right to inherit the farm recognized to the eldest son), is certainly a reminiscence of the medieval age, still today sons in the family, then males in the society, are favorite and consequently in a position of advantage respect to females and that’s the root of a widespread misogyny and discrimination against women.
But, the revolutionary verdict of the Court, published today, goes beyond the male/female conflictual dynamics within the Italian society, exacerbated by decades of legislative inadequacy and lack of justice in gender discrimination, abuse and violence cases.
Despite the future impact on women’s rights, the focus of the Court’s verdict’s is on children’s rights and identity and on the equal shared responsibility of parents. “In accordance to the principle of equality and in the interest of the child, both parents must be able to share the choice on his surname, which constitutes fundamental element of personal identity”.
Now the Parliament will have to replace the ‘in the name of the father’ old law as the Court “declared the constitutional illegitimacy of all the rules which provide for the automatic attribution of the father’s surname, with reference to children born in marriage, out of wedlock and adopted children” as in contrast to Art 2, 3 e 117 of Italian Constitution and Art 8 e 14 of European Convention on Human Rights.
The Italian Minister for Equal opportunities Elena Bonetti noted on Facebook the “discriminatory nature of such a automatism (the name of the father law) both towards children and mothers. The Court “today reminds us once again that time to change has come”.
Then on Twitter: