Bulgaria’s Sofia municipality in court action against passport for child of same-sex couple

Sofia municipality has filed a cassation appeal in the Sofia Administrative Court against being required to issue the birth certificate needed for a passport for the child of a same-sex couple, in spite of a European Court of Justice ruling, LGBTQ+ rights organisation Deystvie said on June 13.

In the high-profile case, the European Court of Justice ruled on December 14 2021 that Bulgaria is obliged to issue a passport to baby Sara, a Bulgarian citizen, born in Spain. Her same-sex parents are a Bulgarian woman, Kalina, and a British woman, Jane.

The European court said that Bulgaria must issue the passport, which would provide her with the right to free movement within the EU, and it must reflect the child’s relationship with her two mothers.

In early June 2022, Sarah’s two mothers applied to the consulate in Barcelona for a passport for a child in compliance with the 2021 EU decision. The consulate refused the administrative service.

Deystvie said that June 10 2022, Sofia municipality filed a cassation appeal in the Sofia court against the issuance of the documents.

The organisation said that Sofia municipality was preventing the issuance of a Bulgarian birth certificate and Bulgarian personal documents and thus was impeding the fundamental rights of an EU citizen.

Deystvie, which has been working on the case for more than a two and half years, said: “We will not accept another act of discrimination and deprivation of fundamental rights of Bulgarian citizens”.

On May 16 2022, Sofia Administrative Court had ordered Sofia municipality’s Pancharevo district to issue a birth certificate with both mothers of baby Sara listed as parents.

At the time, Deystvie welcomed the court decision, saying that it set a precedent for authorities to recognise the rights of the children with same-sex parents and for the rights of LGBTI people to a family and private life, and it further encourages equality in society.

The battle began in 2019, when it turned out that Sara was at risk of becoming stateless, even though both of her mothers were listed on the Spanish birth certificate. Spain refused to grant her citizenship because her parents were not Spanish citizens. Although Jane was from the UK, she could not pass on her citizenship because Sara was born outside of the UK. The only option left for Sara was to obtain Bulgarian citizenship passed on by Kalina.

​Kalina, as the listed mother in Sara’s Spanish birth certificate, applied to Sofia municipality Pancharevo district for a Bulgarian birth certificate for her child.

Sofia municipality requested evidence containing information on the child’s origin in relation to her biological mother.

In her application, the applicant stated that she could not and was not obliged to provide such information under any law or regulation in force in the Republic of Bulgaria. As a result, Sofia municipality refused to issue a Bulgarian birth certificate.

​The refusal was appealed in Sofia Administrative Court.

The court, in turn, referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of European law in relation to the right to freedom of movement and the right to private and family life of Sarah and her mothers.

The European Court of Justice found that the Bulgarian authorities were obliged to issue Sara with an identity card or passport certifying her nationality and stating her surname according to the birth certificate drawn up by the Spanish authorities.

​Following the European Court of Justice’s decision, the case was referred back to the Sofia Administrative Court so that the court could assess how to apply the decision in the context of Bulgarian law.

In its May decision, the Sofia Administrative Court confirmed Sara’s Bulgarian citizenship and obliged the Bulgarian administration to issue a birth certificate listing both mothers as parents.

News of the latest court action against Bulgarian documentation for baby Sara comes just five days before Bulgaria’s capital city is to be the scene of the 15th Sofia Pride, a campaigning protest for equal rights for LGBTQI+ people in Bulgaria.

(Photo: Hu Chen/unsplash.com)

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