The children of dozens of same-sex couples in Italy could see the name of their non-biological parent removed from their birth certificates, an ongoing trial may soon rule.
Last June, a state prosecutor in Padua, northern Italy, demanded the cancellation of 33 birth certificates issued to the children of same-sex couples in the city since 2017.
"Receiving the letter [from the state prosecutor] was like being slapped," Valentina Bagnara and Daniela Ghiotto, a couple with a two-year-old daughter involved in the case, told Sky News.
The move came after Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government - a firm believer that children should be raised by heterosexual parents - began demanding that councils register only the biological parent.
"If my name was deleted from my daughter's birth certificate, I would always need Valentina's written authorisation. For example, to pick her up from school or to take her to a doctor's appointment," says Daniela, the non-biological mother.
"I couldn't authorise life-saving medical procedures and in the worst case, if Valentina passed away, Caterina would be declared an orphan and could be adopted," she added.
What has made this legal case possible is the lack of a national law that protects the rights of children of same-sex couples.
Using this loophole, since 2018 some LGBT-friendly city councils across the country have quietly begun listing parents of the same gender on their children's birth certificates.
"What these mayors did is fundamentally illegal," says Jacopo Coghe, spokesperson of Pro Vita e Famiglia, an association that promotes Christian family values based on the marriage between a man and a woman. "We're talking about children who have been deprived of a paternal figure. We are against that."
The case of the city of Padua has gained national interest, with people on social media sharing pictures of themselves with a sign reading #iosonoapadova (#I'mInPadua).
"It's the stigma of homosexuality," Susanna Lollini, a lawyer defending some of the couples in the trial. "If we passed a law that protects children of same-sex couples it would mean that there's no stigma anymore towards LGBT families."