Historic first in Italy as a court recognises a person's non-binary gender identity 

For the first time, a judge in Rome has introduced the definition of "non-binary" in a court ruling.

The word non-binary spelled with toy cubes, as Italy legally recognises such gender identity for the first time.
Image: Unsplash

On March 7, the Court of Rome in Italy recognised a person’s gender identity as non-binary for the first time in the history of the country. The sentence is of utmost importance, as it sets a historic precedent and paves the way for the future of non-binary people’s rights in Italy.

The ruling comes after the case was discussed in court on February 10. The judge decided that non-binary individuals can have their legal gender recognised without the need to undergo gender-affirming surgery or hormone therapy. This makes it a groundbreaking sentence since the procedure for legal gender recognition in Italy is not explicitly detailed in the legislation, which leaves it open to the interpretation of courts and judges. 


Law 164, the legislation on legal gender recognition, was adopted in 1982, making Italy one of the first countries in the world to recognise the right to change one’s legal gender. However, the requirements for such change are not explicitly stated in the law, which means that courts have the power to decide on a case-by-case basis.

During an interview with Gay.it, lawyer Giovanni Guercio, who worked on the case in question, said:  “My greatest hope is to update Law 164 of 1982. Let’s not forget that these are judicial precedents and not law. So other judges can embrace them or they can deviate from them. The law, on the other hand, is the law and a rule from which one cannot withdraw. The precedent created here has the purpose of getting a foot in the door to keep it open for future sentences, but Law 164 is stuck on a hallucinating binary!”


Guercio would want to see the law in Italy changed to have the procedure for legal gender recognition based on self-determination, which is the most respectful approach for Trans and non-binary folks’ rights, as it only requires a written declaration on their part. Ireland is among one of the few countries in the European Union to adopt such an approach in its Gender Recognition Act.

This incredible news comes at the same time as another positive move from Italy, which has decided to celebrate its first LGBTQ+ History Month this year. For the first time, Italian queer icons and activists like Mario Mieli or Mariasilvia Spolato who brought about change for LGBTQ+ folks in the country will be celebrated and their stories will be heard. To honour the ‘Demonstration of Sanremo’ that took place in April 1972, LGBTQ+ History Month will be celebrated in the same month this year, with events and talks on queer history organised all over Italy.

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