In the name of the mother

Landmark ruling allows children to take maternal surname

Editorial Staff
October 2, 2008

After 30 years, the Italian Court of Cassation has ruled in favour of parents' right to pass on the maternal surname to their children. According to the recent court ruling from Italy's highest constitutional court, if both parents agree, children can now be given their mother's surname instead of their father's.


The ruling, which overturned an earlier ruling by a Milan appeals court, comes thanks to the long effort of a couple from Milan who have been fighting for the right to name their children as they wish. The court ruled in favour of the couple's appeal because the current law, which requires married couples to give their children the father's surname, was considered sex discrimination under European Union human rights law. Judges made their decision because ‘the concept of the patriarchal family is a thing of the past; it is no longer in line with the evolution of our society, nor with supranational human rights policies.'


Italian rights groups have hailed the landmark ruling, which put an end to a 30-year battle to promote an idea of the family that goes beyond patriarchy, saying that the ruling recognizes the vital role of both parents in the life of a child. The first proposal for such a law was presented in parliament on October 30, 1979. 



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