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Mother hails surname sentence by Human Rights Court

Ruling 'a step towards progress'

07 January, 15:32
Mother hails surname sentence by Human Rights Court (ANSA) - Milan, January 7 - A woman who won a case against Italy in the European Court of Human Rights to be allowed to give her daughter her surname described Tuesday's ruling as "another step towards progress". "It will be especially useful for our children," said Alessandra Cusan who, together with her husband Luigi Fazzo, took the case to the Strasbourg court after failing to win a legal battle in Italy to be allowed to choose their daughter's surname despite claims of discrimination.

They wanted their first daughter Maddalena, born in 1999, to have the surname Cusan.

"The sentence does not have a direct bearing on our case as Italy must now legislate on the matter," Cusan continued.

"But I sure hope that when our children are parents they will be able to make a free choice".

The couple's three children all currently carry both parents' surnames under a 2000 provision that Cusan described as a "kind of courtesy" that is "not the same thing as being able to choose".

Under existing Italian law children born of married Italian nationals must take their father's surname.

However, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this violates articles 14 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights respectively concerning the prohibition of discrimination and the right to respect for private and family life and ordered Italy to modify its legislation as a result.

In particular, the judges described the Italian system for conferring surnames as being "excessively rigid and discriminatory towards women".

Laura Garavini of the Democratic Party (PD), who is spearheading an existing legislative proposal to change the system, described the ruing as "a victory for mothers".

She was echoed by fellow party member, Deputy Senate Speaker Valeria Fedeli, who said the sentence was "a great innovation and another step towards making this country ever more civil". Italy has three months to appeal against the sentence before it becomes binding.