Italy's right-wing government has told Milan's city council to stop registering same-sex parents' children, re-igniting a debate around Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's conservative agenda.
Italy legalized same-sex civil unions in 2016, overriding opposition from Catholic and conservative groups, yet it fell short of giving them adoption rights, fearing that it would encourage surrogate pregnancies, which remain illegal.
In the absence of clear legislation on the issue some courts have ruled in favor of allowing same-sex couples to adopt each others' children, and mayors of some cities, including Milan, have registered surrogate births to same-sex couples.
The order from the interior ministry
Milan's center-left mayor Giuseppe Sala said on Monday he had received a letter from the interior ministry telling him to stop registering the children of same-sex couples.
Citing a ruling by Italy's highest court, the Milan prefecture - a local arm of the interior ministry - argued that parents could obtain legal recognition only with a court's explicit approval of an adoption.
Sala said in a podcast on Tuesday he would respect the prefecture's order but would keep fighting politically to guarantee that the rights of same-sex parents and their children are recognized.
Meloni rose to power as a defender of traditional Christian values and denouncing what she calls "gender ideology" and "the LGBT lobby".
Gay rights activists call for change
The government's latest move was decried by LGBT+ activists.
"The ban is one of the most concrete manifestations of the fury that the right-wing majority is unleashing against LGBTI people," Gabriele Piazzoni, Secretary General of Italy's largest LGBT+ rights group Arcigay.
Fabrizio Marrazzo, a leading gay rights campaigner, called for Sala and other mayors to keep registering the birth certificates.
"When a law is unjust and discriminatory those who engages in politics must have the courage to disobey it", he said in a statement.