Italy’s Government Erasing History, Daily Brief July 25, 2023

Daily Brief, July 25, 2023.


When a new government comes to power, you expect it to make changes, but you don’t expect it to erase history – especially not your family’s history.

And yet, this is exactly what is happening in Italy today: The government is removing parents from their children’s birth records.

A state prosecutor in northern Italy has ordered the cancellation and reissue of some birth certificates for no other reason than that they aren’t in line with the new government’s ideology.

Authorities are sending letters to 33 people, telling them they are being retroactively removed from the most fundamental record of their child’s birth. Their family history is erased and rewritten.

Only the “gestational” parent will be on the new document. If you didn’t actually carry the fetus inside you before the birth, you don’t count.

This radical rewriting of history will not affect all “non-gestational” parents equally, however. Tens of millions of men who never carried a child or gave birth are spared.

The government’s intolerant ideology is focused on a small minority of parents in this case: lesbians. The revised birth certificates are being issued listing the name of only one of the child’s parents, the gestational one, not both. 

Along with the Kafkaesque, the psychological trauma of the authorities deciding to write you out of your child’s life and the reissue of these documents has grim, practical consequences, endangering access to medical care and education.  

The government is tearing up Italy’s international obligations, too. The right to create a family is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the European Convention on Human Rights. Italy has ratified all of these, yet the government now ignores them.

The latest move by the state prosecutor in northern Italy will affect “only” 33 couples, but it’s clearly part of the government’s general direction. It follows the government’s January order for state agencies to cease registration of children born to same-sex couples.

It’s a relatively small minority of people, but hate-driven political movements always focus on punishing small minorities as hate targets. The political program of this government (and others in Europe) is to whip up anger against minorities – refugees, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT folks – and try to transform that artificially intensified anger into electoral success.

And you can’t build up public anger and then not follow through with policies to match. Inevitably, the politics of hate demands others be sacrificed and their rights crushed.

But, of course, punishing minorities never solves any of the real problems voters have in their day-to-day lives. So, to distract voters from that eternal truth, the politicians hit those hate targets harder and find new targets to lash out at. The attacks on human rights mount.

If their supporters just stopped for a second and thought about it, maybe they would ask why their fellow citizens are being written out of history. And then ask – simply in their own interest and the interest of their own families – who’s next?

But the constant drumbeat of political hate rarely pauses to allow such reflection.