Bulgarian supreme court in landmark ruling on residence rights for same-sex couples

Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the right of a same-sex couple, one an EU national and the other a third-country national, to reside in Bulgaria on the basis of marriage.

The court upheld, citing a ruling by the European Court of Justice, an earlier ruling by the Sofia Administrative Court affirming that EU rules allowed Australian Kristina Palma and her spouse Mariama Dialo to reside in Bulgaria.

In 2016, the European Court of Justice held that EU countries must respect the right of residence of same-sex couples married in another country who want to live together on their territory, as the right of free movement in the EU is a fundamental right guaranteed to all citizens of the Union.

The couple married in France in June 2016.

Palma was granted residence in Bulgaria later that year, but at the beginning of 2018, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry’s Migration Directorate refused Palma residence status in Bulgaria, citing article 46 of Bulgaria’s constitution which defines marriage as a civil union between a man and a woman.

The Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling is final and the Migration Directorate has been told to implement it immediately.

“We are not surprised by the decision, because it is the only one possible in this case. We hope that the institutions in Bulgaria will take into account that the decision will have an impact in other similar situations in which EU citizens, including Bulgarian citizens, exercise the right to move freely within the Union and not to waste more taxpayers’ money as was the case here,” said Veneta Limberova, president of youth LGBT organisation Deystvie.

(Photo: Ludovic Bertron)



The Sofia Globe staff

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