Europe

All EU nations must legally recognize same-sex parents, rules top European court

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The top court in the European Union ruled Tuesday that same-sex parents and children must be legally recognized across all member states as a family.

The European Court of Justice stated that children have a legal guarantee of free movement between countries — a fundamental right of EU citizens — and therefore EU countries must acknowledge the parental relationship to the child, so as not to create a nation-by-nation disparity.

“That refusal could make it more difficult for a Bulgarian identity document to be issued and, therefore, hinder the child’s exercise of the right of free movement and thus full enjoyment of her rights as a Union citizen,” the court ruling states. 

The case arose from Bulgarian authorities refusing to grant a newborn daughter of a same-sex couple a birth certificate on the grounds that the child is ineligible to have two mothers.

Bulgarian citizen Kalina Ivanova and Gibraltar-born British citizen Jane Jones were both registered as mothers of their daughter, Sara, who was born in Spain, according to ILGA-Europe, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group. 

As neither woman was Spanish, and because a United Kingdom ruling called the British Nationality Act of 1981 does not allow Jones to transfer her citizenship to her daughter because she was born in Gibraltar, the couple was left with no other alternative but to apply for Bulgarian citizenship for their daughter, ILGA-Europe noted. 

Bulgaria, however, denied Sara citizenship due to her parents’ same-sex relationship, which left the child stateless. 

“The judgment has brought long-awaited clarification that parenthood established in one EU Member State cannot be discarded by another, under the pretense of protecting the ‘national identity,” said Arpi Avetisyan, litigation head at ILGA-Europe.

“We are thrilled about the decision and cannot wait to get Sara her documentation and finally be able to see our families after more than two years,” Sara’s parents said of the ruling, according to the advocacy group.

“It is important for us to be a family, not only in Spain but in any country in Europe and finally it might happen. This is a long-awaited step ahead for us but also a huge step for all LGBT families in Bulgaria and Europe,” they added. 

Tags Bulgaria Bulgaria Bulgarian nationality law Citizenship of the European Union European Court of Justice European Union European Union European Union European Union law Identity document ILGA-Europe International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Sofia Ursula von der Leyen
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