Children can no longer be forced to have their father’s last name in Italy: NPR

Pope Francis caresses a child in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall on Friday, April 8, 2022. Italy’s Constitutional Court has ruled that children must be given both parents’ surnames at birth, not just the father’s.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP


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Alessandra Tarantino/AP


Pope Francis caresses a child in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall on Friday, April 8, 2022. Italy’s Constitutional Court has ruled that children must be given both parents’ surnames at birth, not just the father’s.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

The long tradition of a child automatically inheriting the father’s surname could soon end in Italy.

Italy’s highest court ruled Wednesday that children should inherit both parents’ surnames.

Italy’s constitutional courts ruled that the paternal practice of a child automatically and involuntarily inheriting the father’s surname at birth was not only unconstitutional but “discriminatory and harmful” to the child’s identity, Reuters reported.

Instead, the court said in a statement, both parents should be allowed to choose the child’s last name.

“Following the principle of equality and in the interest of the child, both parents should be able to share the choice of their surname, which constitutes a fundamental element of personal identity,” a court statement said.

The new practice will allow both parents to assign their child’s last name in the order they agree on. If both parents decide to give a single last name to the child, that’s fine too.

According to the court statement, the automatic assignment of the father’s surname was unconstitutional. The practice violates numerous articles of Italy’s constitution, which protects citizens’ rights in relation to sex, race, religion and more, the court added.

The court’s ruling will not yet take effect. It has to pass the approval of Parliament before officially becoming the new practice.

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