What’s in a Name? The Italian surname case
by FFE EU News Staff
After several years of pleading their case in court, Italian parents Alessandra Cusan and Luigi Fazzo are finally getting closer to giving their daughter the mother’s maiden name thanks to a court ruling that forces Italy to change its law.
Since the Roman era, children of married Italian nationals automatically receive their father’s surname. In 1999, Cusan and Fazzo were not permitted to give their daughter Cusan’s name, a decision which they appealed at court. In 2013, they filed a complaint against the state with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
On Tuesday, the judges described the Italian system as ‘excessively rigid and discriminatory towards women’ and ruled that it did not match the principle of gender equality protected by the country’s modern constitution. The judges also ordered Italy to change its legislation and have given the country three months to make an appeal.
The association of Italian matrimonial lawyers (AMI) has lauded the decision, saying ‘our laws still have a strongly patriarchal mould despite various reforms of family law.’ Deputy Senate Speaker Valeria Fedeli of the Democratic Party (PD) added that the court order was ‘a first important step towards a reform of existing legislation to allow, finally, the realisation of full equality between spouses.’ Forza Italia’s Jole Santelli was also supportive of the directive, and added she hoped parliament ‘might now at last make up its mind to renew a law that is obsolete, allowing children to receive their mother’s surname.’