Italy’s prime minister says surrogacy ‘inhuman’ as party backs steeper penalties

Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni says surrogacy is “inhuman” and is backing steeper penalties against the practice, including fines of up to $1 million and multiple-year prison sentences.

The act of surrogacy — with or without payment — is already illegal in Italy but Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party has introduced a bill that would further criminalize the act by hiking fines from €600,000 to €1 million ($640,290 to $1,067,150) and increasing jail terms from three months up to two years.

“I continue to believe that surrogacy is an inhuman practice,” Meloni said at a conference ‘For a Young Europe: Demographic Transition, Environment, Future’ in Rome on Friday.

“I support the bill that makes it a universal crime,” she added.

Meloni’s comments against surrogacy fall in line with the views held by the Catholic Church.

In a document released Monday, Pope Francis addressed surrogacy, saying it “violates” both the dignity of the child and the woman, who “becomes a mere means subservient to the arbitrary gain or desire of others.”

The Friday conference was designed to focus on Italy’s declining birth rates, which Meloni’s government has promised to reverse by making it easier for working mothers to find adequate child care and other support.

“The demographic challenge, and the economic sustainability to which it is connected, is one of the main challenges for us,” she said. “There is no point in managing the present, if the future is not secure.”

Meloni is calling for public spending increases to support families, including baby bonuses and tax breaks for families with children. Her government has already cut taxes on baby formula and diapers.

The move to criminalize surrogacy is largely seen as a move against the LGBTQ+ community. Italy was the last European country to legalize same sex unions, which it did in 2016 but does not allow gay couples to be “married,” in line with the Catholic Church.

Under Meloni’s government, birth certificates were changed to list “mother” and “father” rather than “parent 1” and “parent 2.” In 2023 some communities where her Brothers of Italy leads the government, names of lesbian mothers were removed from birth certificates.

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