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COVID measures and disproportionate impact on families of LGBTI Bulgarians entering the country

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

The global Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on free travel have negatively impacted a huge number of people globally and one of the affected groups is the LGBTI community.

According to the latest order of the Minister of Health, temporary anti-epidemic measures have been introduced regarding the entry of persons arriving from other countries on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, which are divided into three colour zones - green, orange and red, and their list is updated in due time. The possession of a valid EU digital COVID certificate for vaccination, treatment or examination or a similar document containing the same data as the EU digital COVID certificate greatly facilitates travel between countries in the Union, including Bulgaria. Citizens from countries that are in a red zone need to meet more requirements related to the purpose of their travel, and in not a few cases proving the status of a family member of a Bulgarian citizen is the only option for entering the country. More information on the countries falling into each of the different zones and the requirements for entry into our country can be found HERE

Currently, there is no explicit regulation of same-sex marriages and/or partnerships and cohabitation in the Republic of Bulgaria, which could create additional difficulties for Bulgarian citizens and their foreign spouses and/or partners who want to visit our country for summer holidays, family and family reunions or to return to their home country permanently. Nevertheless, our country is a party to a number of international treaties on the basis of which it should not violate, but on the contrary support, the right to private and family life of all its citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status. Next, under the EU Free Movement Directive, the spouses of a national of an EU Member State have the right to free movement and residence within the EU. The CJEU explicitly ruled in 2018 that the term "spouse" includes people in a same-sex marriage.

Here's one of the differences in everyday life that exists between opposite-sex and same-sex couples. While it is undeniable that partners should be treated equally, equally and without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it is much easier for a same-sex couple who can easily legitimize their relationship at a border crossing with a marriage certificate, registered partnership or other document to travel, but this could prove to be an obstacle for same-sex families and partners impossible for individuals in same-sex partnerships, especially if border officials and experts show a lack of understanding.

LGBT Youth Action's legal program provides free legal assistance and advice to LGBTI people. We can be contacted easily through our online legal platform.

From May 2021, the work of the Legal Programme is also supported by the Equal Rights in Action Fund.

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