Bulgaria condemned by the ECHR for refusing to recognize the union abroad of a lesbian couple

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Bulgaria condemned by the ECHR for refusing to recognize the union abroad of a lesbian couple

Lesbian couple have Bulgaria condemned by the ECHR

Two women, married in 2016 in England, denounced the refusal of the Bulgarian authorities to enter the word “married” in their civil status registers.

The reaction of the ECHR

On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) expressed its dissatisfaction with Bulgaria, criticizing this country for not having recognized the marriage of this female duo celebrated overseas. Rights defenders in this European Union nation, often singled out by Brussels and Washington for its failings towards the LGBT+ community, welcomed this decision with enthusiasm.

The plea of ​​two Bulgarian citizens

Having made the UK their home for almost a decade, two Bulgarian citizens, Darina Koilova and Lilly Babulkova, both aged 37, applied to the Court. Now residing in Sofia, they protested against the stubbornness of the Bulgarian authorities in omitting the mention “married” on their official documents, thus depriving the couple of the legal guarantees that they considered essential.

Strasbourg verdict

The distinguished judges of the ECHR, based in Strasbourg, ruled in favor of the two women, finding that Bulgaria had violated fundamental rights relating to private and family life, as set out in Article 8 of the Convention. The Court, unanimously, decreed that this finding of violation constituted in itself adequate compensation for the moral damage suffered by the plaintiffs. She also ordered Bulgaria to pay the sum of 3,000 euros in legal costs.

Post-decision reactions

Both expressed their relief, seeing this decision as a step towards fairer justice for their community in Bulgaria. Their lawyer, Denitsa Lyubenova, welcomed this first reprimand from the ECHR against the Balkan nation on this issue.

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Waiting for a change

“Time is on our side,” she said, while expressing hope for a proactive response from the government. However, expectations for immediate progress remain moderate, given the caution of the political class and the clear hostility of public opinion towards the LGBT+ community. The decisions of the ECHR, which are binding on the States concerned, may encourage them to revise their legislation and administrative procedures.

Regional situation

Bulgaria, formerly under communist rule, remains reluctant to recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, like its neighbor Romania, which was also reprimanded in May by the ECHR following a complaint filed by 21 homosexual couples.


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