The European Union’s top court ruled last Tuesday that Bulgaria must issue an identity document to a child of a Bulgarian woman and her wife despite same-sex marriage not being recognized in the country.
The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) relates to the case of a Bulgarian-British married couple in which both women are recognized as mothers on their child’s birth certificate, which was issued in Spain where they live.
That means couples enjoying full marital and parenting rights in one EU country can be deprived of them in another, something European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to change.
Bulgaria refused to name both as mothers on a national birth certificate the couple had sought in order to get a Bulgarian – and hence an EU – identity document for the child.
The Bulgarian woman challenged the decision and the case ended up at the ECJ, which examined whether the refusal to issue documents violated the right of the child as an EU citizen to move around the 27-nation bloc freely.
“The Bulgarian authorities are required to issue to her a Bulgarian identity card or passport stating her surname as it appears on the birth certificate drawn up by the Spanish authorities,” the court said in a statement.
“Such a document … must enable … the right of free movement, with each of the child’s two mothers,” it said.
The tribunal said EU citizens have “the right to lead a normal family life”, meaning all member states must honor the parent-child bond established by a member state even if they are not forced to recognize same-sex marriage in their national law.
The case goes to the heart of problems faced by gay couples in the EU where some countries allow them to marry and parent, while others do not.
That means couples enjoying full marital and parenting rights in one EU country can be deprived of them in another, something the head of the bloc’s executive, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, wants to change.
The Commission's strategy of advancing gay rights is backed by more liberal EU countries but eastern states such as Poland and Hungary restrict LGBT rights.