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Deystvie's legal team wins a case before the SAC for the rights of LGBTI families in Bulgaria

Updated: Jan 11


The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the Bulgarian state is obliged to recognise same-sex marriages in order to grant a right of residence to the wife of a Bulgarian citizen who is a citizen of Serbia, i.e. a third country. 


A Bulgarian and a Serbian citizen, who, for the sake of anonymity, we will call Christina and Teddy, met and fell in love in Bulgaria while Jenny was still a student. Since then they have been inseparable and in 2022 they got married in Malta. In order to be together, Teddy applied for a D visa for permanent residence in Bulgaria as a spouse of a Bulgarian citizen under the Foreigners in Bulgaria Act. The Bulgarian consulate refused on the grounds that same-sex marriages are not recognised in the Bulgarian legislation.

The refusal of the Bulgarian Consulate in Belgrade was appealed before the Administrative Court of Sofia - City (ACSC) with the legal assistance of the legal team of Deystvie, arguing that the non-recognition of the same-sex marriage contracted in Malta by the Bulgarian authorities in order to exercise the right to free movement of Bulgarian citizens and their families in the European Union is contrary to European law, in particular the decision in the case "Coman" of the Court of Justice of the European Union (C-673/16). As a result, the ACSC delivered a judgment upholding Teddy’s arguments and appeal:

"The consequences of a marriage contracted and recognised in another Member State must be taken into account in the context of the freedom of movement and residence recognised to every citizen of the Union within the territory of the Member States."

The decision of the ACSC was accordingly appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court by the Consular Service of the Republic of Bulgaria in Belgrade, Serbia. 

By a decision of today, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the decision of the ACSC:

"In the present case, the act (the refusal of the Consular Service in Belgrade) was issued on the basis of irrelevant legal grounds and factual assessments. It is therefore correctly annulled."

The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court is final and cannot be appealed.

This marks a significant step in recognising and upholding the rights of the LGBTI community in Bulgaria. It reflects a commitment to implementing European legislation and, affirming European values and human rights. 


LGBTI organisation Deystvie provides pro bono legal assistance and representation to LGBTIQ+ people in and outside Bulgaria. Our work changes the environment and our efforts lead to change in Bulgarian and European legislation. In our work, we continue to hold institutions accountable for violating the rights of our community.

If you believe you are being discriminated against or treated unequally, contact us.



This article was produced in the framework of the LGBTI Rights in Action initiative (EUV/164), funded by the European Union and the Open Society Institute - Sofia Foundation (OSI). The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) or the EEAS. Neither the European Union, nor the EACEA, nor the EEA can be held responsible for them.

The LGBTI Rights in Action initiative is implemented within the framework of the Rights and Values project and is funded by the European Union and the Open Society Institute - Sofia Foundation (OSI).


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