The case concerns the refusal by the Head of the Civil Registry Office of Kraków (Poland) to transcribe into the Polish register of civil status the birth certificate of the daughter of K.S. and her wife S.V.D., issued by Spanish authorities. This lack of registration hindered the issuance of a passport, which impacted the child’s freedom of movement.
The Court interpreted Articles 20 and 21 of the TFEU, to mean that the Member State of which a child of a same-sex couple is a national (i) is obliged to issue to that child an identity card or a passport without requiring the prior transcription of a birth certificate of that child into the national register of civil status, and (ii) is obliged to recognise the document from another Member State that permits the child to exercise, without impediment, the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.
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 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.
The public prosecutor appealed to the Provincial Administrative Court in Kraków (“Court”) against the transcription of A.Z.’s birth certificate by the Head of the Registry Office in Krakow into the Polish Civil Register, claiming that it is contrary to the fundamental principles of the legal order of the Republic of Poland because A.Z.’s birth certificate listed two women as parents. The appeal was dismissed.
The Court stated that due to the large number of states that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and because many states include similar provisions in their national legislation, legal experts argue that the right of a child to nationality is part of international customary law, therefore everyone should acquire a nationality at birth.