Bulgaria recognises rights of married lesbian couple in historic first

A Bulgarian court has backed the right of a same-sex married couple to reside in the country for the first time in a landmark ruling.

The Sofia City Administrative Court ruled that the French-Australian couple should be allowed to live in Bulgaria together, reports Australian TV network SBS.

Cristina Palma, from Australia, married her partner Mariama Diallo in France in 2016, having met in Sydney 15 years ago.

The couple moved to Bulgaria together shortly afterwards. However, Palma’s application to continue her residency in the country was rejected in 2017.

Palma then started a lawsuit over the refusal of her residency, which she won on June 29, when the Sofia court ruled in her favour.

It’s believed to be the first time Bulgaria – a country where gay marriage and same-sex adoption remains illegal – has recognised the rights of a same-sex married couple in a case like this.

In January 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that all EU nations have to recognise the rights of same-sex spouses, even if the government has not legalised equal marriage.

The historic case has been lauded by LGBT+ rights campaigners in the country.

Sofia Pride, which was held last month, posted on Facebook: “In a historic decision published on 29 June 2018, the Sofia City Administrative Court ruled in favour of a same-sex couple – Cristina and Mariama – who fought for their right to reside as a married couple in Bulgaria!

“This ruling is of paramount importance for us as a community because it gives hope to all same-sex couples, regardless of their citizenship, that their families will be recognized in Bulgaria!”

Palma, meanwhile, posted on Twitter: “We are part of making History in the #LGBT movement in Bulgaria.”

In June, the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the second main political party in Bulgaria, refused an invitation to Sofia Pride – saying she opposes same-sex marriage and adoption.

In an open letter addressed to the organisers of Sofia Pride opposition leader Korneliya Ninova turned down the invite to attend the event in the nation’s capital on June 8.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party is the main opposition party in the country, and is considered more liberal than the right-wing GERB, which stands for Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, which is currently in power.

The BSP has the biggest membership base of all political parties in Bulgaria, with 105,000 members as of 2016.

“Thank you for your invitation towards me and all members of our team to get involved on Sofia Pride 2018,” Ninova wrote in an open letter to the chair of the Sofia Pride organisational committee.

“As far as your message towards me, accept my respect for LGBT people, but I also trust you will respect differences of opinion. Mine is the same as the 75 percent of Bulgarians, which you refer to in your letter.

“I am against same-sex marriages and the ability of same-sex people to adopt children. Of course, this is a personal position, which does not bind anyone else.”