The case concerns two Swiss nationals in a registered same-sex partnership, who had a child in the United States through a surrogacy agreement. A US court had named both parents as the child’s legal parents, but Switzerland only recognised the parent-child relationship of the genetic father and not the intended father. The intended father was unable to adopt the legally-recognised child of his registered partner as this option was, until January 2018, only open to married (heterosexual) couples. The Court found a violation of the child's right to respect for private and family life (Article 8 ECHR).
The judgment is an answer to a general legal question as to whether Polish law allows the incorporation of foreign birth certificates where parents are of the same sex. The question was prompted by the authorities' refusal to transcribe into Polish law the foreign birth certificate of a child born to two mothers, both of whom are Polish nationals. The applicant argued that since lack of a transcribed birth certificate inhibits her child's access to a Polish passport, it in practice leads to a situation that is identical to statelessness.
The applicant was born in the US, and his birth certificate indicated a Polish national as the father, and an unknown surrogate mother as the mother. Polish authorities refused to confirm the applicant acquired Polish nationality at birth as a child of a Polish parent, because the birth certificate is against the Polish public order, in particular the prohibition of surrogacy. The courts ruled in favour of the applicant, stating that confirmation of his Polish nationality on the basis of the birth certificate does not amount to validation of surrogacy.
The applicants are children born presumably in a surrogacy arrangement in Ukraine to two Austrian nationals. Even though the custody of the commissioning parents over the applicants was confirmed under the Austrian law, their parentage and consequently the Austrian nationality of the applicants was initially denied. The Court considered that the best interests of the child prevail in such a case over the prohibition of surrogacy under Austrian law, and confirmed the applicants' right to Austrian nationality.
The applicant was born abroad to two Polish mothers, and acquired Polish nationality on the basis of at least one of his parents being Polish. However, he was unable to access Polish identity documents, for which a transcription of a foreign birth certificate into the Polish legal order is required - the latter being denied as the concept of two mothers contradicts the fundamental principles of Polish legal order. The Court ruled in favour of the applicant, relying heavily on national and international children's rights norms.