Theresa Zettl

A great step in the right direction for the LGBTQI+ community and rainbow families: the European Court of Justice has ruled that the relationship between child and parent recognized by one EU state must also be recognized by all other EU states.

The European Court of Justice has strengthened the rights of families with two same-sex parents in a landmark ruling. In the case of a girl with two mothers, the court ruled Tuesday that the relationship between child and parents recognized by one EU state must also be recognized by all other EU states.

In doing so, the judges referred primarily to the right of the girl in question to move freely within the EU. The decision is significant for rainbow families across Europe!

The European umbrella organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex organizations Ilga spoke of a landmark ruling. Specifically, the case involves two married women, one Bulgarian and one British, who live in Spain and had a daughter there. In the Spanish birth certificate, both women are listed as mothers of the child. But Bulgarian authorities rejected a request for a Bulgarian birth certificate for the girl and wanted to know who the birth mother was. They said listing two female parents was against the country’s public policy. However, without a Bulgarian birth certificate, the girl would not be able to get a Bulgarian identity card or passport, and thus would not be able to move freely in the EU. His rights as an EU citizen would be limited. Since the girl could not obtain Spanish citizenship, she faced statelessness.

The ECJ now ruled that Bulgaria is obliged to issue the girl an identity card or passport without first requiring a birth certificate from its own authorities. Bulgaria and the other EU states would have to recognize the Spanish birth certificate.

Is this only an issue in Bulgaria?

No, for example under German law, only the birth mother is considered the mother. The other mother would have to adopt the child. In a similar case, should the couple fail to state who the birth mother is, German authorities would not issue a birth certificate and therefore a passport!

The newly elected government of SPD, Greens and FDP wants to change that. Their coalition agreement states that “if a child is born into the marriage of two women, both are automatically legal mothers of the child, unless otherwise agreed. They want to advocate “that rainbow families and same-sex marriages/life partnerships concluded in the EU are recognized in all member states with all legal consequences.” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also already named the problem. The CDU politician said in September 2020 that she would work for mutual recognition of family relationships in the EU.

Did you know…

…that ELfR has a working group LGBTQIA+? Feel free to participate in our regular working group meetings! You will find more information here!

Author Profile

Theresa Zettl
Co-Founder of European Liberals for Reform
Chairperson of ELfR Working Group Health
ALDE Individual Members Steering Committee Member (2022-2023)

Social Media & Digital Marketing Expert, Blogger
Favorite Topics: Health, Society, LGBTQI
A great step for rainbow families
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The opinions on this blog are of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of ELfR.

Theresa Zettl


Co-Founder of European Liberals for Reform Chairperson of ELfR Working Group Health ALDE Individual Members Steering Committee Member (2022-2023) Social Media & Digital Marketing Expert, Blogger Favorite Topics: Health, Society, LGBTQI


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