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.
Bulgarian authorities refused to issue a birth certificate to the daughter of a Bulgarian mother and a British mother, who was born in Spain and issued a Spanish birth certificate with the names of both mothers, on the basis that it could only recognise parents of different genders. The Court found that where a birth certificate issued in another Member State designates parents of the same sex, the Member State of which the child is a national is required to issue an identity card or a passport to the child, without requiring a birth certificate to be drawn up beforehand by its national authorities. It also held that the Bulgarian authorities, and any other Member State, must recognise the parent-child relationship as established by the Spanish authorities for the purposes of permitting the exercise of the child’s right to move and reside freely within the EU, and any documents that would allow such travel.
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 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.
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.