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Italy high court rules adoptive couples cannot request children based on race, ethnicity

The Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], the country's highest appeals court, ruled Tuesday that couples seeking to adopt children of a certain ethnicity or race "are not suitable for international adoption." The judgment was prompted by the case of a Sicilian couple who declared that they only wanted to adopt a Caucasian child of European descent. The decision cites violations of the Italian Constitution [text, PDF] regarding inalienable rights, equality, and international agreements. The court stated that parents who indicate a preference should not only have their particular application denied by the juvenile court under Article 30 of Law 184/1983 [text, PDF] of the Italian Civil Code, but their capacity to apply for adoption in general should be called in to question [ANSA report, in Italian]. The court also recommended that social services provide discriminatory parents with psychological support to allow them to overcome their aversion to adopting a child "who is not in [their] own image." The decision comes more than a year after the attorney general asked the court to intervene [Apcom report, in Italian] and ban these types of discriminatory requests. Children's rights group Friends of Children [advocacy website, in Italian], which initiated the complaint, said that they have been battling these types of requests for years and welcomed [press release, in Italian] the court's decision.

Ethnic tensions and discrimination are problematic in Italy, where illegal immigration is a growing problem. In January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] dismissed a suit against Italy [JURIST report] by Palestinian immigrants alleging illegal expulsion from the country. Earlier that month, a group of African immigrants was evacuated [JURIST report] from the town of Rosarno after violence was directed towards migrant farm workers there. In August, rights groups criticized Italy [JURIST report] for returning a suspected terrorist to Tunisia, disregarding obligations imposed by the ECHR. Last July, the Italian Senate approved a law [JURIST report] that would criminalize illegal immigration with a fine of between 5,000 and 10,000 euros and up to six months detention before deportation.

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