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Italian children should not automatically receive their father's surname, court says

Pope Francis caresses a child in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Friday, April 8, 2022. Italy's Congressional Court ruled that children should receive both parents' surnames at birth, not just the father's.
Pope Francis caresses a child as he arrives on the occasion of an audience with the members of the Italian Prosecutors High Council, in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Friday, April 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The longstanding tradition of a child automatically inheriting the father's surname may soon be ending in Italy.

Italy's highest court ruled Wednesday that children should instead inherit both of their parents' last names.

Italy's Constitutional Courts ruled that the paternal practice of a child automatically and involuntarily inheriting the father's surname at birth was not only unconstitutional but "Discriminatory and harmful" to a child's identity, Reuters reported.

Instead, the court said in a statement, both parents should be allowed to choose the child's last name.

"In the wake of the principle of equality and in the interest of the child, both parents must be able to share the choice on his surname, which constitutes fundamental element of personal identity," a court statement said.

The new practice will allow both parents to assign their child's surname in an order they agree upon. If both parents decide to bestow a single surname to the child, that's OK as well.

According to the court's statement, automatically assigning the father's surname was unconstitutional. The practice violates numerous articles of Italy's Constitution, which protects the citizen's rights surrounding sex, race, religion and more, the court added.

The court's ruling won't go into effect just yet. It has to pass Parliament's approval before officially becoming the new practice.

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