(Reuters) – Bulgaria should issue identity papers for a child with two mothers in a same-sex marriage, the top EU court’s advocate general said in an opinion on Thursday, though the bloc cannot force the country to legally recognise their marriage, or parenting.
The opinion by the European Court of Justice’s advocate general relates to a case of a Bulgarian-British married couple, in which both women are recognised as mothers on their child’s birth certificate, which was issued in Spain where they live.
But Bulgaria, which does not recognise same-sex marriage, refused to name both as mothers, in a national birth certificate the couple had sought in order to get a Bulgarian – and hence an EU – identity document for the child.
While Bulgaria cannot stall the EU-wide right to free movement for its citizens, it may refuse to issue a birth certificate naming both women as mothers, under its national laws, according to the opinion.
“If the child is a Bulgarian national … Bulgaria must issue her with an identity document or a travel document referring to (the Bulgarian woman) V.M.A. and her wife as the parents, in order to allow the child to travel with each of her parents individually,” said the opinion.
“By contrast, Bulgaria may … justify the refusal to recognise the parentage of the child, as established in the Spanish birth certificate, for the purpose of drawing up a birth certificate determining the parentage of that child within the meaning of domestic family law.”
The contradiction highlights the conundrums faced by gay couples in the 27-nation EU, where some countries allow for same-sex marriage and parenting, while others do not.
In practice, that means couples enjoying full marital and parenting rights, in one EU country, are deprived of them if they travel to another.
The bloc’s executive is pushing for mutual recognition of family relations in the EU, under a new strategy to strengthen LGBT rights, that comes against the backdrop of increasing restrictions on gay communities in countries such as Poland and Hungary.
A final ruling by the Luxembourg-based court, which does not have to, but usually does, follow the preliminary opinions, is expected in coming months.