Children must bear surnames of both father and mother – Italian court rules

Italy's Constitutional Court has ruled that a newborn child must bear the names of both parents, describing the old tradition of children taking only their fathers’ surnames as "discriminatory and harmful to the identity" of a child.

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The court, however, gave a caveat that if a husband and wife talked and agreed that their child should bear the surname of only one of them, it is completely within their prerogative.

In the court’s view, a child belongs to both the father and mother, so they should be involved in determining the choice of a surname for the child.

The remarkable ruling was reportedly given on Wednesday, and Italy's parliament is expected to approve new legislation to make it applicable.

The new ruling has sparked reactions, with many gender advocates declaring support for it, while lauding the constitutional court for the bold declaration.

Italy's Family Minister, Elena Bonetti, took to Facebook to say that the ruling was refreshing. She went further to entreat parents to take equal responsibility for their children’s upbringing.

"We need to give substance [to the decision] and it is a high priority and urgent task of politics to do so," Bonetti wrote on Facebook.

Other politicians have also been reacting to the ruling, mostly welcoming it.

Renate Gebhard, president of the South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP), said it was long overdue.

"This issue has been dragging on from one parliamentary term to the next, it is time to decide," he said, as quoted by Euronews.com.

The new website further reports that another Italian politician, Laura Boldrini, an MP for the Democratic Party, described the ruling as a boost for civilization.

"It is now up to Parliament to make this leap forward in terms of civilization. Parents have equal responsibility and equal rights, no more discrimination that penalises mothers and children."

Although the ruling is widely welcomed, it could result in some Italian children having to bear long surnames.

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