A new ruling by the European Court of Justice has been announced which would require all EU member states to recognise the rights of same sex couples. The move is seen as a huge step in the right direction for equal rights campaigners, and comes following the case of Romanian national, Adrian Coman who was unable to live in Romania with his American husband.
Romania has laws that prohibit the marriage of same sex couples, and doesn’t recognise them at all in the legal system – resulting in the Romanian nationals spouse being unable to take up residence as the spouse of an EU citizen. The case was later referred to the court.
This judgment from the court is not only beneficial for specific cases like this one. It’s believed that improving the rights of same sex couples in law will bring a wider improvement of their rights across the EU. It will also ensure the term “spouse” is always seen as gender neutral by law.
Although the decision has been approved by members of the ECJ, a final decision is still to be approved in a full court case. The law will apply in all countries, including those that are yet to legalise gay marriage, which includes Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and the Ukraine.
Melchior Wathelet , who is a Belgian advocate in the court, said that the new rules will ensure that the rights of individuals are always upheld. He added that all EU governments have a responsibility to uphold the rights of their citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, and that by refusing to grant residency to a spouse on these grounds was against the fundamental policies of the Union.
The current EU 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. Wathelet told the courts that the EU has given the spouses of its nations the right to reside in the bloc, and that this law is universal and not based on the gender or where the marriage was carried out
It was his opinion that “in view of the general evolution of the societies of the member states of the EU in the last decade in the area of authorisation of same-sex marriage” it was no longer appropriate to follow the case law definition of marriage as “a union between two persons of the opposite sex”..
The Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said: “This is fantastic news and a landmark opinion for rainbow families. Freedom of movement is a right of all EU citizens; it cannot be restricted because of whom they love. The European Union protects our rights.”
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