Update: The Rights of Rainbow Families in the EU

The Court of Justice of the EU has ruled in two occasions over recent months that EU countries must protect the freedom of movement of rainbow families. This is a right all EU citizens should enjoy, LGBTI people too. In today’s blog, we bring you the state of LGBTI people’s family rights in different EU countries.

Baby Sara and Baby Sofia are too little yet to understand the change they’ve brought about for rainbow families in the EU. They don’t know that they share similar experiences. Both were born in Spain to lesbian couples and both were at risk of statelessness during the first years of their lives.

For quite some time, Sofia, daughter of Irish and Polish mothers, and Sara, daughter of British and Bulgarian mothers, did not have access to identity documents and couldn’t leave Spain. One of the reasons was that the countries of one of their mothers, Bulgaria in the case of Sara, and Poland in Sofia’s, refused to recognise the birth certificate issued in Spain because the parents in the documents were two persons of the same sex. After the Court of Justice of the EU rulings on their cases, both Sara and Sofia have helped to further the protection of rainbow families’ rights in the European Union.

First it was Baby Sara. At the end of 2021, the CJEU issued a landmark judgment in her case, stating that if one EU country recognises the child’s parental relationship, as Spain had done, then all EU countries should do the same, and so guarantee the child its freedom of movement across the region, which is a right of all EU citizens. The court decreed that Bulgarian authorities must issue an identity card or a passport to baby Sara, and that all other EU countries should recognise and follow this ruling.

In June 2022, the CJEU confirmed this in the reasoned order in the case of Baby Sofia’s, stating something very similar: when an EU country has recognised two persons of the same sex as parents of a child, then the EU country of which that child is a national, should issue identity documents to that child with both parents on them, and all EU countries should protect the right to freedom of movement of the child and their family. Poland has been told that it must now provide the child with identity documents and guarantee her and her parents the right to move and reside freely in the country.

These are protections granted in Articles 20 and 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Articles 7 and 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, among others.

The cases of Baby Sara and Baby Sofia have strengthened the freedom of movement of LGBTI families across the EU as citizens of the Union, which does not necessarily translate into changes in national legislation Union. The family rights of LGBTI people vary significantly across the Union.

Have a look at the family rights of LGBTI people in the EU:

13 countries recognise marriage equality and joint adoption for same-sex couples.

They are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Bonus: Some weeks ago, Slovenia’s Constitutional Court ruled that marriage is a life union of two persons, paving the way for same-sex marriage and adoption. The Court gave the Slovenian Parliament six months to comply with this decision.

In 13 countries registered partnership with similar rights to marriage is possible for same-sex couples

They are: Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain in some regions.

Additionally, in seven countries same-sex couples have access to registered partnership with limited rights.

In 11 countries, medically assisted insemination is available for same-sex couples and singles

They are: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

In Austria, only couples have access and in Latvia, only singles.

Only 4 countries of the EU, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Sweden, recognise trans parenthood.

See also

News

Rainbow families have the right to move and reside freely, EU court reiterates

The Court of Justice of the EU has stated that birth certificates issued in an EU country must be recognised across the EU, and that EU countries should protect the freedom of movement of rainbow families.
read more
News

Hungary to be Brought Before Top EU Court For its Ban on LGBTI Content

The European Commission has referred Hungary to the CJEU over discriminatory amendments adopted in June 2021, which ban the “portrayal and the promotion of gender […]
read more
News

Complaint Filed with EC Against Lack of Free Movement for Same-sex Couples in hungary

ILGA-Europe, alongside a Hungarian activist organisation, have filed a complaint against Hungary because of its refusal to implement the 2018 Coman judgement, which recognises that […]
read more
News

Bulgarian Court Rules Baby Sara Must Be Issued Birth Certificate

A Bulgarian court has ordered city hall authorities in the capital city of Sofia to issue a birth certificate to the baby born to a […]
read more
Blog

#LesbianVisibilityWeek: The situation for lesbian women in and from Ukraine

Like all members of the LGBTI community who have either remained in Ukraine, or are on the move to a safer place, lesbians are facing specific challenges and needs. This Lesbian Visibility Week, we’re learning more.
read more
Blog

How Baby Sara and her mums have pushed forward the rights of all rainbow families across the EU

When an EU country recognises a child and its same-sex parents as a family, all EU countries should recognise them as such, so to guarantee their freedom of movement. This is what the EU’s top court ruled in December. But how this case has advanced LGBTI rights in the European Union and what comes next for rainbow families?
read more
Podcast

Hope and the LGBTI Movement in 2021

It was a year of further lockdowns, of new strains of the COVID virus, and the uncertainty they have brought, and most of all, enormous […]
read more
Press Release

Top EU Court Recognises Relationship of Same-sex Parents and their Children Under EU Law

In a landmark judgement, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that a child and its same-sex parents must be recognised as […]
read more
Case Law

Coman and Others v Romania

Recognition of same-sex marriages in the context of freedom of movement in the EU through the prism of implementation of CJEU’s Coman judgment.
read more
Blog

How trans parents are better protected after European Court ruling

Recently, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of a trans woman in Russia who was denied access to her children because of her gender identity and transition. Read on to find out how this may benefit all trans and LGBTI parents in Europe.
read more
News

European Court rules in favour of the best interest of the child in same-sex custody case

The European Court of Human rights has ruled that the refusing a mother custody of her youngest child on the grounds of her sexual orientation to be discriminatory and a violation of her right to private and family life.
read more
Press Release

LGBTI organisations welcome European Court judgement in favour of trans parental rights in Russia

Today, in a landmark judgement strongly welcomed by TGEU and ILGA-Europe, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favour of a woman in […]
read more
Blog

Freedom of movement for same-sex spouses: The Coman Case, 3 years on

ON 5 JUNE 2018, THE COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (CJEU) ISSUED A LANDMARK JUDGEMENT AGAINST ROMANIA, RECOGNISING THAT THE TERM SPOUSE INCLUDES SAME-SEX SPOUSES UNDER EU FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT LAWS. THREE YEARS LATER, CLAI HAMILTON, SPOUSE OF ROMANIAN CITIZEN ADRIAN COMAN, HAS NOT BEEN GRANTED RESIDENCY YET. NOW THEY’VE BROUGHT THE CASE TO THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS (ECHR). HERE, ADRIAN COMAN TALKS ABOUT THE ORIGINAL CASE, AND HIS HOPES WITH THIS LATEST DEVELOPMENT.
read more
Blog

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Rainbow Family Rights in Europe

Across Europe, the rights of rainbow families are divergent, yet every European country has one thing in common: legal protection for LGBTI parents and their children is stalling. To mark International Day of Families 2021, we look at the situations and challenges for rainbow families across the region.
read more
Blog

#LesbianVisibility: Data shows that lesbian equality is still a long way off

As #LesbianVisibilityWeek draws to a close, here’s why lesbian visibility matters every day.
read more
Blog

Listen: Rainbow Family Rights in Europe in 2021 and Beyond

ILGA-Europe’s podcast The Frontline presents a brand-new mini-series looking at the many issues affecting LGBTI parents and their children across Europe.
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 4: At a Crossroads in Ukraine

Several pathways for partnership rights were part of the Ukraine took in EU-Ukraine Association agreement 2014-2016. Based on it the Ukrainian government developed a human […]
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 1: The Coman Case Three Years On

Three years ago, Adrian and his partner Clai were successful bringing their case to the Court of Justice of the European Union, which judged that […]
read more
BlogPodcast

Listen: Rainbow Family Rights in Europe in 2021 and Beyond

ILGA-Europe’s podcast The Frontline presents a brand-new mini-series looking at the many issues affecting LGBTI parents and their children across Europe.
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 2: Baby Sara, Stateless Child

We meet Kalina and Jane, from Bulgaria and the UK respectively. Because their daughter Sara was born in Gibraltar, she cannot claim UK citizenship via […]
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 6: The Future

ILGA-Europe’s advocacy director, Katrin Hugendubel and Björn Sieverding from the Network of European LGBTIQ Families explore the issues coming down the line in terms of […]
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 5: The Rights of Trans Parents and their Children

In March 2021, Transgender Europe (TGEU) published the report, “Stuck on the swing: experiences of trans parents with freedom of movement in the EU”, in […]
read more
Podcast

Rainbow Family Rights in Europe – Part 3: The Western Balkans

We are joined by Danijel Kalezi?, president of the Governing Board of Queer Montenegro, which helped usher in legislation for civil unions for same-sex couples, […]
read more
News

Opinion from European court: same-sex parented families should be officially recognised in all EU member states

Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s opinion says that Bulgaria’s lack of recognition for same-sex parented families cannot justify a violation of EU freedom of movement law.
read more
News

Is The EU an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone? 

The ambition is right, but the reality is very different, says leading European LGBTI rights organisation
read more
News

European Court will consider lack of implementation of EU law to enable freedom of movement for same-sex spouses

Almost three years after the European Court ruled that Romania must recognise a same-sex couple under EU freedom of movement legislation, its government is yet to implement the judgement.
read more
Press Release

Finland violated rights of a lesbian mothers’ child by rejecting his asylum application, UN finds

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child found that Finland failed to consider the best interests of the child of a lesbian couple when assessing his asylum request. Now the country is under an obligation to provide reparation.
read more
Press Release

European Court must rule in favour of a child at risk of statelessness and her family’s freedom of movement in the EU, say leading LGBTI rights organisations

Authorities in Bulgaria have not recognised the valid EU birth certificate of the child of a same-sex couple. On February 9, the Court of Justice of the European Union must clarify that if you are a parent in one EU country, you are a parent in every EU country.
read more
News

Call for Contributions: Violence and discrimination against LBTI women in sport submission to Council of Europe

We, along with EL*C, TGEU, and OII Europe, are working to prepare a short submission to The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the specific needs and struggles of LBTI women in sports, and are looking for your inputs to this submission by 31 January.
read more
News

Joint statement: Dark day for LGBTI community in Hungary as homophobic discriminatory bill and constitutional amendments are passed

Reacting to the Hungarian parliament’s decision to adopt a law that will strip non-married couples of the right to adoption and two constitutional amendments which further restrict the rights of LGBTQ people, leading human rights organisations have come together to condemn the decision.
read more