European Union court adviser backs EU-wide recognition of same-sex spouses

  • European Union court adviser backs EU-wide recognition of same-sex spouses

European Union court adviser backs EU-wide recognition of same-sex spouses

"They can not hinder freedom of residence of a citizen of Union by denying grant to ir spouse, of same sex, national of a non-member State of Union, a right of permanent residence in ir territory", he says.

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. The Romanian authorities said that Mr Hamilton could not be classified as a "spouse" because the country does not recognise same sex marriage.

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.

Romania does not have marriage equality - but it must now recognize the rights of same-sex spouses.

"That conclusion also applies in respect of that citizen's country of origin, when he returns there after residing on a permanent basis in another Member State in which he has developed or consolidated a family life, as Mr Coman has done with Mr Hamilton in the present case".

The couple said the decision was discriminatory and challenged it in Romanian courts.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) still needs to rule on the case but the couple have been boosted by the comments of a senior advisor to the institution.

Judges are not bound by the advocate general's view, but tend to follow it.

"Freedom of movement is a right of all European Union citizens, it can not be restricted because of whom they love".

The judge said the term "spouse" in European Union law had to be "interpreted autonomously and uniformly throughout the EU", adding that it "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".

"Granting the spouse of a union citizen a right of residence constitutes recognition and the minimum guarantee that can be given them", the opinion concludes.

Basically, Wathelet's opinion lays the groundwork for a landmark LGBTQ rights victory that would affect Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.