29th Feb 2024

EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents

  • Children of same-sex couples sometimes find themselves in a legal limbo due to anti-LGBTI laws (Photo: Jonathan Cohen)
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A new EU Commission bill wants to ensure the rights of a child from same-sex couples are upheld across all EU states.

"The core of the proposal is that once a member state has established parenthood under its national law, they should be recognised by the other member states," EU justice commissioner, Didier Reynders, told reporters on Wednesday (7 December).

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The proposal follows legal wrangling and headaches for same-sex couples whose parenthood is recognised in one EU state but not in another.

Many find themselves in legal disputes or worse after moving or traveling to EU states that refuse to recognise their parenthood.

Last year, the EU court of justice ruled in favour of a same-sex couple, whose baby was born in Spain.

One parent was from Gibraltar and was unable to transfer citizenship to her daughter. The other was from Bulgaria. Spain only gives citizenship if one of the parents has Spanish citizenship.

With no other option, the Bulgarian parent then requested Bulgarian citizenship for the child. But authorities in Sofia refused, claiming a child cannot have two mothers.

Left without any citizenship and stuck in Spain, the infant was deprived of personal documents and unable to gain access to education, healthcare and social security.

The commission estimates at least two million children in the EU find themselves in similar predicaments, whereby one EU state recognises the parents but not another.

"The situation is not acceptable for the commission," said Reynders.

Reynders noted that EU states will still be able to decide who can become parents under their respective national laws.

And he said the bill, presented as a regulation, does not seek to define what constitutes a family.

Instead, he said it aims to protect the rights of the child, which he hopes will convince all EU states to back a bill that requires unanimity.

"Member state authorities should recognise parenthoods established in another member state without the need to have recourse to a specific procedure," he added.

In a statement, Europe's LGBTI umbrella organisation, ILGA-Europe, said that it means a child will be able to retain succession rights and have any one of their parents act as their legal representative in matters such as medical treatments, childcare and education.

"Currently, many children, including children of LGBTI parents, 'lose one parent' when crossing a border because of parenthood not being recognised," they said.

Political groups in the European Parliament have also welcomed the bill.

Gaby Bischoff, a German socialist MEP and vice-president of the group, said the bill comes at a time of backsliding of LGBTI+ rights in places like Hungary and Poland.

"The regulation will protect the rights of children from rainbow families," she said, in a statement.

Similar comments came from the Green president, German MEP Terry Reintke.

"The proposal is a very important step for the queer community," she said.

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