German judges have denied a request from a married couple to change their “Russian-sounding” surname, despite the couple being subjected to daily mockery since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The couple, who were born in Germany, argued that they and their daughter had been teased too much over their name, which is similar to that of a former Polish adult film star.
However, the court in Rhineland Palatinate rejected the request, stating that people couldn’t draw the connection because the actress, believed to be Teresa Orlowski, was no longer famous enough.
The court ruled that the couple’s reasons for the change were insufficient and did not disclose their surname due to German privacy regulations.
A statement released by the court said: “The fact that a family name is of foreign origin or doesn’t sound German is in itself generally not an important reason for a name change.”
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The Mirror reports that the court argued that the negative treatment the couple claimed to have received over their name, since the war in Ukraine began, wasn’t serious enough to warrant the change.
It also stated that the family’s economic situation hadn’t been affected.
The couple can appeal the ruling.
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The strict rules on surnames in Germany are currently changing, with plans in place to allow families to now have double-barrelled surnames.
Conjoined surnames were banned in the 1990s, in order to stop name chains lengthening across generations.
The only exception is for the spouse whose name is not taken on in matrimony.
Women often end up having double-barrelled names, while their husbands and children keep a single surname.
Justice minister Marco Buschmann, of the liberal Free Democrats, said it was time for the rules to be liberalised to keep up with societal change.
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