Bulgaria issues birth certificate to same-sex couple’s baby after landmark legal battle

A Bulgarian court has ordered city hall authorities in the capital city of Sofia to issue a birth certificate to the baby born to a same-sex couple from Bulgaria and Gibraltar respectively.

The court’s decision was finally declared on Monday (16 May) bringing a lengthy legal battle to an end which began after a baby girl was essentially left stateless.

Baby Sara, who was born in 2019 in Spain, was unable to receive Spanish citizenship as neither of her mothers are Spanish.

Her Gibraltarian mother was unable to pass over her British citizenship but this was denied as she was born in Gibraltar and not in the UK, which means she’s unable to transfer her citizenship to a child.

Due to Bulgaria not recognising same-sex marriages conducted abroad, as well as disallowing same-sex marriage on Bulgarian territory, Baby Sara was not permitted citizenship.

As a result, Sara was left with no documentation of any kind, which posed a significant risk to her ability to access healthcare, education and social security. It also prevented the family from leaving Spain.

They took the case to Sofia’s Administrative Court, which eventually consulted the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which in turn ruled that Bulgaria’s refusal to issue identity documents to Sara hindered her rights.

“The member state of which the child is a national is obliged to issue an identity card or a passport to that child without requiring a birth certificate to be drawn up beforehand by its national authorities,” the CJEU said on December 14 2021.

Proceeds came to a halt when, in order for an identity card or passport to be issued, the baby needed a Bulgarian birth certificate, which cannot include same-sex parents and only the biological mother.

“The Sofia municipality must issue a Bulgarian birth certificate to reflect the name of the holder, date and place of birth, sex and origin of both parents of Baby Sara,” the Deystvie LGBTQ+ rights organisation said in a statement.

“Bulgaria may not refuse to recognise Baby Sarah’s descent from both her parents on the ground that national law does not provide for the institution of same-sex marriage,” the court’s ruling declared.

The couple’s legal representative Denitsa Lyubenova commended the decision as a “landmark [step] for the LGBTQ+ community”.

“Today, the LGBTQ+ people can rejoice,” she said. “After years of tireless work we have won a step in the fight for equality, after years of perseverance we have proven that we are right and that EU law treats citizens equally.”

The couple were “extremely happy” about the decision and that their baby would finally be able to leave Spain.