European Court: All EU Nations Must Recognize Rights of Same-Sex Couples
European Court: All EU Nations Must Recognize Rights of Same-Sex Couples
The term 'spouse' in EU legislation is gender neutral says advocate general
13 January, 2018, 03:35
In what has been hailed as a major step forward for equal rights, Melchior Wathelet, a Belgian advocate general in the Luxembourg court, said gay spouses had standing in countries even where governments were implacably opposed to same-sex marriage. Thursday's decision is non-binding on European Union court judges, who are expected to issue a ruling this year, but they often follow the reasoning laid out by advocates general.
The case in question was brought to the European Court of Justice by Relu Coman, a Romanian national who married his United States partner while living in Brussels in 2010.
Combined, they could soon require each of the EU's 28 member nations to extend the rights and benefits of marriage equality to LGBTQ people across Europe - European Union gay marriage right would be very large deal affecting untold hundreds of thousands of people.
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The current European Union law is neutral on the gender of spouses, with the 2004 freedom of movement act providing these rights to all citizens and their spouses regardless of gender.
But the Romanian authorities refused a request for a residence permit for Mr Hamilton, saying he could not be recognised as the spouse of an European Union citizen because Romanian legislation prohibits marriages between same-sex couples.
The gay couple, alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, challenged the decision of Romanian authorities.
"Romania's Constitutional Court recently approved and confirmed more than three million citizen signatures (in a country of less than 20 million people) calling for the national referendum".
EU law [materials] permits the spouse of an EU citizen to obtain a residence permit for the EU member state where the spouse resides. In that regard, the Advocate General points out that the term "spouse" within the meaning of the directive refers to a relationship based on marriage while nevertheless being neutral as to the sex of the persons concerned and indifferent as to the place where that marriage was contracted.
The Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld said: "This is fantastic news and a landmark opinion for rainbow families". They would have been compelled to do so had Mr Coman's partner been of the opposite sex. Accordingly, such a person may also reside on a permanent basis in the territory of the member state in which his or her spouse is established as an European Union citizen after exercising his or her freedom of movement.
Thirteen countries in the European Union allow same-sex marriage, while a further nine have civil unions or something similar. Like Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia do not give same-sex couples any legal rights or responsibilities.
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