Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Court Adviser Paves Residency Path for Gay Couple in Romania

Court Adviser Paves Residency Path for Gay Couple in Romania

Belgian advocate general Melchior Wathelet wrote today that European Union countries must recognise same-sex spouses in the same ways that they do straight spouses.

His advice is not binding, but the BBC reports ECJ judges generally followed the advocate's lead.

The case in question was brought to the European Court of Justice by Relu Coman, a Romanian national who married his U.S. partner while living in Brussels in 2010.

"While Member States are free to provide for marriage between persons of the same sex in their domestic legal system or not, they must fulfil their obligations under the freedom of movement of European Union citizens", he said.

Advocate General Melchior Wathelet said the term "spouse" should include partners of the same sex when it came to the freedom of residence of European Union citizens and their family members.

Coman and Hamilton have been fighting for years to have their legal status as spouses officially recognised in Romania, where there is strong anti-gay sentiment.

"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".

Married same-sex couples should have the same right to freedom of movement as straight spouses, a senior adviser to the European Court of Justice has said.

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. The couple challenged the decision in Romania's constitutional court, saying it was discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation. 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 big deal affecting untold hundreds of thousands of people. They would have been compelled to do so had Mr Coman's partner been of the opposite sex.

Same-sex marriage is recognized in at least a dozen European Union countries-including Germany and Malta, which passed legislation previous year.

Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have no legislation on the matter - while Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Estonia all allow some form of civil partnerships.

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