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Germany: Right to Know Biological Father for Children Conceived Through Sperm Donation

(July 27, 2017) On May 18, 2017, the German Bundestag (parliament) adopted an act that gives children conceived through sperm donation the right to request information on the identity of the sperm donor once the child turns 16. The act excludes the possibility of using that information in court to declare the sperm donor the legal father of the child and therefore prevents the assertion of custody, child support, or inheritance claims. The act will enter into force on July 1, 2018, one year after its publication in the Federal Law Gazette. (Gesetz zur Regelung des Rechts auf Kenntnis der Abstammung bei heterologer Verwendung von Samen [Act to Regulate the Right to Know One’s Heritage in Cases of Heterological Use of Sperm], July 17, 2017, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 2513, BGBl website.)

Central Register

The act establishes a central register at the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (Deutsches Institut für Medizinische Dokumentation und Information (DIMDI)). (Id. art. 1 § 1.) The register will contain the first and last name of the sperm donor, his birthday and birthplace, nationality, and address. (Id. art. 1 § 2 ¶ 2.) The same data is collected from the women receiving the sperm. (Id. art. 1, § 5). The data will be saved for 110 years. (Id. art. 1 § 8.) The consent of the sperm donor and of the woman receiving the sperm to have their data stored in the central register and provided to a future child is an essential prerequisite for the artificial insemination. (Id. art. 1 §§ 2 & 5.) Once the baby is born, the institute where the artificial insemination took place must report that information to the DIMDI. (Id. art. 1 § 6.) The 110-year period takes into account the general life expectancy of a person; that time frame is also consistent with the duration that data needs to be stored in other laws, e.g., the birth register and marriage register. (Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Regelung des Rechts auf Kenntnis der Abstammung bei heterologer Verwendung von Samen [Draft Act to Regulate the Right to Know One’s Heritage in Cases of Heterological Use of Sperm], DEUTSCHER BUNDESTAG: DRUCKSACHEN UND PROTOKOLLE [BT-Drs.] 18/11291, at 17, Deutscher Bundestag website.)

Sperm that has already been collected before the act entered into force may only be used for an artificial insemination if the sperm donor has been subsequently provided with the necessary information and has been informed that he can object to the use of his sperm. (Gesetz zur Regelung des Rechts auf Kenntnis der Abstammung bei heterologer Verwendung von Samen, art. 1 § 13.)

The Child’s Right to Information

Any person 16 years of age or older who suspects that he or she has been conceived through artificial insemination has the right to seek relevant information from the DIMDI. Persons younger than 16 may only enforce that right through their legal guardians. (Id. art. 1 § 10 ¶ 1.) The DIMDI first has to check with the German registration office whether the address on file for the sperm donor is still current, then it must inform the sperm donor, four weeks before the fact, that the information will be provided to the child.  The DIMDI may charge a fee for its services. (Id. art. 1 § 10 ¶¶ 5 & 6.)

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Germany: Law on Insulting Foreign Leaders Abolished

(July 26, 2017) On July 17, 2017, an act that abolishes the criminal law provision that made it a crime to insult a foreign head of state, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity, or a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in Germany was published in the Federal Law Gazette.  An “insult” is not defined in the Criminal Code, but the courts have interpreted it to be “a manifestation of disregard or contempt of another person provided that the offender is aware of the defamatory character of the statement.” (1 ENTSCHEIDUNGEN DES BUNDESGERICHTSHOFES IN STRAFSACHEN [BGHSt] [DECISIONS OF THE FEDERAL COURT OF JUSTICE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS] 289.) The crime of insulting a foreign leader was punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine.  (Gesetz zur Reform der Straftaten gegen ausländische Staaten [Act to Reform Crimes Against Foreign States], July 17, 2017, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 2439, BGBl. website.) The amendment of the Criminal Code repealing the provision will enter into force on January 1, 2018. (Id.)

The provision received international attention in the summer of 2016, when it was invoked by the Turkish government on behalf of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who felt insulted by a poem written by the German satirist Jan Böhmermann. As a result of that incident, the German government announced in January 2017 that it would abolish the criminal provision, because “providing representatives of foreign states with a legal protection for their honor exceeding the protection already awarded against general personal insults does not seem timely anymore.” (Jenny Gesley, Lèse-Majesté in Germany – A Relic of a Long-Gone Era?, IN CUSTODIA LEGIS (Feb. 23, 2017); Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Reform der Straftaten gegen ausländische Staaten [Draft Act to Reform Crimes Against Foreign States], DEUTSCHER BUNDERAT: DRUCKSACHEN [BT-Drs.] 67/17, at 1.)

Under German law, it is generally a criminal offense to insult a person. The crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine. (Strafgesetzbuch [StGB] [Criminal Code], Nov. 13, 1998, as amended, BGBl. I at 3322, § 185, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE; German Criminal Code (as last amended Oct. 10, 2013), GERMAN LAWS ONLINE (unofficial English translation.)

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Italy: Amendment to Armed Forces Personnel Law

(July 26, 2017) On July 7, 2017, new legislation on the Armed Forces entered into effect in Italy. (Legislative Decree No. 94 of May 29, 2017, Provisions Concerning the Reorganization of the Roles and the Career of the Armed Forces Personnel, as Provided in Article 1, Paragraph 5, Second Point, of Law No. 244 of December 31, 2012 (L. D. No. 94), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.) (June 22, 2017) (in Italian).) The text of Law No. 244 of 2012 delegates powers to the government to review the National Military Statute and provisions on the same matters. (Law No. 244, 2012, G.U. No. 13 (Jan. 15, 2013), G.U. website (in Italian).)

The new legislation:

  • confirms the existing categorization and hierarchy of career military personnel – Generals, Senior Officers, Junior Officers, Marshals, Sergeants, Permanent Service Volunteers, and Temporary Service Volunteers – and introduces amendments to the provisions on each category of personnel (L. D. No. 94, art. 1(1)(a)(a)-(d); Italian Military Hierarchy, HIERARCHYSTRUCTURE.COM (last visited, July 25, 2017));
  • introduces extensive amendments to the provisions on the military career path of officers throughout the military in its different branches (Army, Marine, Air Force, and other specific branches of the military), related to applicant qualifications for filling vacancies, examinations for admission to military service, testing of skills, the duration of preparation to become an officer, promotion requirements, and service commitment requirements (id. arts. 2-9); and
  • amends the Code of Military Order (Legislative Decree No. 66 of March 15, 2010, G.U. No. 106 (May 8, 2010), G.U. website (in Italian)) in regard to the determination of the gross annual sums earned by military officers for purposes of calculation of their social security benefits and pensions (L.D. No. 94. art. 10(1)(c)).

In addition, starting later this year, the new law provides for a reduction in personnel of the Italian Army, Military Marine, and Military Air Force by a contingent of 1,498 units of the 169,730 total, with the monies saved by these reductions to be allocated to meet other financial obligations related to the military set forth under the law’s provisions. (Id. art. 11(5).)

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