A Bulgaria court ruled in favour of a lesbian couple who married in France, making it the first time a same-sex union has been acknowledged in the conservative country.
Australian citizen Cristina Palma married France-born Mariama Dialo in 2016, after 15 years together, and was originally permitted to live, work and travel in Bulgaria on the grounds that she married a European citizen.
But when Palma applied to continue her residency in Bulgaria back in 2017, she was rejected after the country’s officials deemed their union invalid, due to Bulgaria’s archaic laws and views on same-sex marriage.
After a two-year battle, a court reinstated Palma’s rights as the spouse of an EU citizen. Their lawyer, Denitsa Lyubenova, said the ruling “could be an important first step toward legalizing same-sex marriage in the country”.
The ruling was in accordance with a June 2018 European Court of Justice Ruling (ECJ) which means that EU nations must recognise same-sex marriages from other member states, even if they do not grant marriage equality to their own citizens.
Bulgaria is conservative in regards to LGBT rights in comparison to other countries in the European Union. Same-sex activity is legal and anti-discrimination laws in employment are in effect, but the country doesn’t recognise LGBT couples and there’s no hate crime laws in regards to sexual orientation and gender identity. Same-sex couples are also unable to adopt and conversion therapy on minors is yet to be banned.
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