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Parents to have choice in new bill on childrens' surnames

Letta's cabinet weighs action on human rights ruling

10 January, 15:06
Parents to have choice in new bill on childrens' surnames (ANSA) - Rome, January 10 - Parents will be given a choice on whether to give their children the father's surname, the mother's surname, or both under a new bill given first approval Friday by the cabinet.

The bill must now go for careful review by a special working group including representatives from the justice, equal opportunity, and interior ministries established to "assess the implications of the measure," a government spokesman said.

The measure comes in response to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights earlier in the week, ordering Italy to change its current law which says children born of married Italian nationals must take the father's surname, in most cases.

Sources said the provisions of the draft bill would also apply to children adopted or born outside of a formal marriage.

In their ruling, the European judges had described the Italian system as "excessively rigid and discriminatory towards women".

Italy was given three months to appeal the sentence before it becomes binding.

The case was triggered when Alessandra Cusan filed a complaint against the Italian state with the Strasbourg court because she was prevented from conferring her surname on her daughter Maddalena, born in 1999, following a lengthy battle in the Italian courts.