The objective of the LoveMoves project was to oppose discrimination practices of Member States who don’t treat same-sex couples recognized in another jurisdiction as such and thus violate the right of free movement within the European Union by identifying and analysing the situation of same-sex couples with recognition in another EU member state who travel or reside in Bulgaria, by informing the LGBT community about the limitations for freedom of movement and mobilising support for change, by raising awareness among authorities and the general public and by putting freedom of movement for same-sex couples in the public agenda thus initiating policy discussion on national and European level.
All planned activities and deliverables were completed and the project objective was achieved. The situation of same-sex couples recognized in another EU jurisdiction who are residing or travelling to Bulgaria has been analysed and described in the report “Free Movement of European Citizens – Rights and Challenges to Same-Sex Families in the Republic of Bulgaria”. The report includes a review of the rights guaranteed to EU citizens and an analysis of the measures and deficiencies in the implementation of the Directive in Bulgaria, a review of administrative and judicial practice in the country and data from a national survey of same-sex couples with recognized status in other EU Member States who reside temporarily or live in Bulgaria.
Through series of community events around Sofia Pride 2018 and specifically organized seminars, representatives of the LGBT community in Bulgaria obtained additional knowledge on the rights of the same-sex couples moving across EU, the issues they are facing during their residency or stay in Bulgaria and the actions some of the couples took in order to defend their rights. The project videos telling the stories of three same-sex couples were shown at the events and the participants were challenged to take action in their support. As a result from these community events and due to the substantial online campaign targeted at the general public, the two petitions aimed at generating national and international support for the right of freedom of movement for same-sex couples across the EU were supported by 5 000 and 18 000 signatures respectively. The two petitions were submitted to relevant national and European institutions and within the framework of the project no response has been received.
In addition to the community events, three major conferences have been held – a National Round Table, an International Conference and a Closing Petitioning Event. They were altogether attended by more than 130 experts from various fields such as academics, lawyers, human right defenders, diplomats, politicians, members of Parliament, international activists and media representatives who got acquainted with the project results and obtained better understanding of the situation of the same-sex couples.
The greatest impact came from the two court cases for recognition of same-sex marriage – of Cristina and Mariama, and of Lilly and Dari – which received broad media coverage. These brave couples served as powerful role models for the LGBTI community and at the same time provided the general public with the human face of same-sex families. What also needs to be noted is that the community bears a strong sense of victory for reaching its targets on the petition to the Bulgarian authorities which has brought a sense of fulfilment and has strengthened the belief in the power of the community.
The European added value of the project was its contribution to the implementation and practical application of the right of free movement laid down in Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. By examining the administrative and judicial practice related to free movement of same-sex families and by leading several cases due to violation of the application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the national level, the project contributed to better implementation of European law.
Shortly after the end of the Love Moves project, the flagman of the project – the case of Cristina and Mariama, found its final resolution with a decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of July 2019, which finally recognized their family applying Directive 2004/38/EC and the case Coman vs. Romania. This is a major breakthrough as it is the first court ruling related to recognition of freedom of movement for same-sex couples in Bulgaria. The decision has generated a new wave of media reporting, which covered not only leading Bulgaria media, but found its way to international news agencies and platforms like Associated Press and the New York Times. As per estimates, well over 1 500 000 people have been reached by the media campaign and media coverage.
Website of the project
Duration of the project
18 months (1/12/2017 – 31/05/2019)
Center for the Study of Democracy
Youth LGBT Organization Deystvie