di Riccardo D'Andrea
(See related) Rome, August 29 - A Rome court on Friday OKd for the first time the adoption of a stepchild in a landmark case involving a gay couple. The girl is the biological child of one of two lesbians, a professional couple. The new Italian ruling applies to heterosexual couples as well as gay, although the stepchild adoption process is said by experts to be more common among same-sex couples who need stronger legal protections for their families. Italy does not recognize the other civil rights of gay couples living together, unlike some other countries that also have stepchild adoption including Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom. Associations representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals say that there may be 100,000 children in Italy who have at least one biological parent who is gay and wants legal assurances that his or her partner has rights over the child if the biological parent dies. Many of these children are foreign-born through assisted reproduction. Research in 2005 by Arcigay found that almost 18% of gay men and 20.5% of lesbians over 40 said at the time that they had a child.