Same-sex parents and their children must be recognized as a family, EU court rules

The European Court of Justice, the top court of the EU, ruled on Tuesday that all same-sex parents and their children are required to be legally recognized as a family unit. The ruling will be enforced in each of the 27 member countries that are part of the EU. 

Since same-sex marriages and unions are not recognized in Bulgaria, Bulgarian authorities refused to give a birth certificate to the newborn daughter of a same-sex couple, and that case led the issue before the court.

The child, Sara, was born in Spain, but neither of her mothers was born there. One was born in Bulgaria, the other in Gibraltar, which is a British territory. Spain is an EU nation where same-sex marriage is recognized, so both women were registered as mothers on the child’s birth certificate. 

Under Spanish law, Sara is ineligible for citizenship in the country as neither of her mothers came from Spanish descent, and she was denied British citizenship because the British Nationality Act of 1981 does not allow citizenship to be transferred to the child of a parent who was born in Gibraltar.

Since Bulgaria refused to issue a birth certificate, Sara was left at the risk of being stateless and unable to leave Spain with no access to citizenship. That would leave her access to education, health care, and social security limited. 

The ruling of the European Court of Justice said that if one EU country acknowledges a child’s parental relationship, so must all members of the EU to guarantee that child’s right to free movement between the countries.

The court added that recognizing same-sex parents with children as families “does not undermine the national identity or pose a threat to the public policy” of a member state where same-sex marriage is illegal. As a result of the ruling, Bulgaria will have to issue a passport or identity card to Sara. 




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