Global News

Gay couple's joy after ECJ advisor backs bid for Romania marriage recognition

Gay couple's joy after ECJ advisor backs bid for Romania marriage recognition

EU countries should recognise the right of all spouses to residency even if they do not allow gay marriage, according to the advocate general for the European Court of Justice.

Although opinions by advocates are non-binding, they are often followed by the full court when a decision is made in the coming months.

The finding involves the case of Romanian national Adrian Coman and his American partner, Clai Hamilton, who tied the knot in Brussels in 2010 but have since been denied the right to live in Romania together.

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"Although member states are free to authorize marriage between persons of the same sex or not, they may not impede the freedom of residence of an European Union citizen by refusing to grant his or her spouse of the same sex, a national of a non-EU country", Wathelet said in his opinion.

However, the Romanian authorities refused to grant Mr Hamilton that right of residence on the ground, inter alia, that he could not be classified in Romania as the "spouse" of an European Union citizen, that member state not recognising same-sex marriage. Romania's constitutional court then referred the case to the ECJ.

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. In its conclusions, known this Thursday, community lawyer opens door to a greater protection of rights of homosexual marriages in countries where it is not legalized. In that regard, the Advocate General recalls that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has recognised that same-sex couples, first, can enjoy a family life and, second, must be afforded the possibility of obtaining legal recognition and protection of their unions. "Statistical investigations confirm it; the authorization of marriage between persons of the same sex in a referendum in Ireland also serves as an illustration". Negative because country does not recognize homosexual marriage. "It is not something associated with a specific culture or history; on the contrary, it corresponds to a universal recognition of the diversity of families". The couple met in NY in 2002 and lived together there for four years, but Hamilton remained in NY initially when Coman moved to Belgium for work. They would have been compelled to do so had Mr Coman's partner been of the opposite sex. "In a globalized world, it is not unusual for a couple one of whom works overseas not to share the same accommodation for longer or shorter periods owing to the distance between the two countries, the accessibility of means of transport, the employment of the other spouse or the children's education".


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