Rights for same-sex couples in Europe: Bulgaria continues to be sorry sight

Written by on April 24, 2017 in Perspectives - Comments Off on Rights for same-sex couples in Europe: Bulgaria continues to be sorry sight

Generally, homosexual couples in Europe can build on recent improvements regarding their legal recognition. Also, gays and lesbians have more rights than they used to have, in most countries within the European Union. But that does not apply to Poland, Romania or Bulgaria. These three countries have not reached the current century yet, in this regard.

Leiden Law School in The Netherlands and the French Institute for Demographic Studies publish a detailed database and comparative analysis on a regular basis. Their latest study on the situation of same-sex couples will be officially released tomorrow, while it is already accessible. It shows that, all in all, looking at Europe as a whole, there is improvement and reason for optimism, except in Bulgaria and the other two “usual suspects”.

The research was led by Kees Waaldijk, Leiden University’s professor of comparative sexual orientation law.

The authors of the study found that almost all E.U. countries now agree that homosexual partners should be legally protected. Also, most Union members share the opinion according to which same-sex partners should be allowed to live together.

Also they registered progress on the continent. By now, same-sex marriages or registered partnerships are legal in 21 out of 28 E.U. member states. In Greece and Italy, same-sex couples can now register as partners, in Finland and Ireland they can now marry, while in Germany and Slovenia the legal aspects of registered same-sex partnerships are now closer to those of marriages between people of different sexes.

“This growing European consensus can help the European Court of Human Rights in deciding which legal protections should – at the very least – be made available to same-sex couples in all 47 Council of Europe countries”, Professor Kees Waaldijk said. “And the Court of Justice of the European Union could build on this clear trend, by ruling that all 28 EU countries must now recognize same-sex marriages from other member states – at least in the context of free movement and immigration.”

Indeed it looks like some countries, including Bulgaria, should be pressured into doing so. Otherwise, nothing is likely to happen anytime soon.

Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are the only countries in the European Union, which do neither allow same-sex marriages, nor registered partnerships for same-sex couples. Even cohabitation is a problem in these countries. While the study at least concedes that, in Bulgaria, “same-sex couples are beginning to get some legal recognition”, hardly anything else has improved for the LGBT community in the country.

The events around last year’s Sofia Pride Parade clearly demonstrated what homosexuals in Bulgaria are facing: ignorance, intolerance and discrimination.

During the parade, the city of Sofia allowed a “counter protest”, organised by homophobic organisations, hooligans and far-right groups. While ambassadors of several countries, including the U.S., Israel, the U.K. and Germany, expressed solidarity with the Bulgarian LGBT community at the Pride Parade, no Bulgarian politicians did so. The next Sofia Pride Parade is scheduled for June 10, 2017.

In an interview with F&F Magazine, which is now part of The Sofia Globe, Radoslav Stoyanov of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee recently explained the kind of situation Bulgarian LGBT people find themselves in. The interview can be accessed here.

The entire study on rights for same-sex couples in Europe, which includes all details, can be found here.

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.