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Bulgarian court recognizes marriage of same-sex couple in historic decision

Bulgarian court recognizes marriage of same-sex couple in historic decision

a couple standing in a square there are other people behind them with rainbow flags. they are decorated in rainbow colours and holding a sign saying lgbqti family EU human rights

A Bulgarian court has ruled in favor of two lesbians who want to live there as a married couple.

The Sofia City Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Australian-French couple who married in France in 2016.

Cristina Palma is from Australia and her wife Mariama Diallo is a French citizen. They were denied a family mobility visa in 2017. The Ministry of Interior’s Migration Directorate denied Cristina a visa even though her spouse was an European Union citizen.

The Ministry argued it could not grant Cristina the visa because the Bulgarian Constitution does not allow same-sex marriage.

Bulgaria is an EU country. The EU has ruled that any EU citizen is entitled to family mobility within the EU countries. That rule applies even if their spouse is not a citizen of the European Union – which was Cristina’s case

So the couple took the Ministry to court and court ruled in their favor in late June.

‘I am happy to celebrate not only my right to live in Bulgaria, but also the right for any same-sex couple to exercise their right to mobility within the EU,’ Cristina said after the court ruling.

The EU and same-sex couples

The Sofia Court said in its ruling it must fall in line with the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice on a similar case in Romania.

The ECJ ruled that EU countries may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant their same-sex partner, a national of a country that is not an EU Member State.

Bulgarian law still prevents same-sex couples from marrying or adopting children. The Bulgarian Penal Code also does not recognize hate crimes based on homophobia and transphobia.

But the ruling has left Bulgarian LGBTI advocates hopeful for the future.

‘This is a good news for the LGBTI movement fighting for legal recognition in Bulgaria,’ said Veneta Limberova, chairwoman of the Youth LGBT Organization Deystvie.

‘This decision 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.’

Bulgarian village life

The women have set up a new life for themselves in a village called Palamartza, about 300kms (186 miles) east of Sofia.

Palamartza’s mayor Georgi Georgiev, said the women were welcome in their village. He admitted their presence helped make people more tolerant of LGBTI people.

The couple have bought two properties in the village according to Nova.

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