European Interest

EU top court rules on same-sex spouses

Flickr/katarina_dzurekova/CC BY 2.0
A picture of the European Court of Justice, Strasbourg, France.

The European Court of Justice ruled on June 5 that same-sex partners have the same residency rights as heterosexual couples. The court ruled in favour of a Romanian gay man’s right to have his US husband live with him in Romania.

Romania does not recognise same-sex marriage and as such denied the American spouse a residence permit.

According to the European Court of Justice, the term “spouse” is gender neutral.

As reported by the BBC, Adrian Coman and his American partner Clai Hamilton were married in Brussels in 2010.

“We can now look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU with certainty that our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant,” said Coman. “We are grateful to the EU Court and to the many people and institutions who have supported us, and through us, other same-sex couples in a similar situation. It is human dignity that wins today.”

According to the court’s ruling, member states should recognise gay marriages contracted in fellow EU states, and grant couples the same residency rights that other families enjoy.

“Although the member states have the freedom whether or not to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex, they may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his same-sex spouse, a national of a country that is not an EU Member State, a derived right of residence in their territory,” the court said.

In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, noted that EU states are still free to decide whether or not to legalise gay marriage.

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to permit same-sex marriages after the Dutch parliament voted for legalisation in 2000. The mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, wedded the first four same-sex couples at midnight on 1 April 2001 when the legislation came into effect. The new law also allowed same-sex couples to adopt children.

This is a hot issue in Romania where politicians in the ruling Social Democratic Party floated the idea of legalising partnerships between same-sex couples in March. There is talk about holding a referendum.

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