European Union top lawyer says Romania must accept gay partners

Clai Hamilton whose residency application to Romania was rejected and Adrian Coman.
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Accept Association

Romania's refusal to recognize gay marriage does not mean it can deny residency rights to a citizen's American husband, an adviser to the EU's top court said Thursday.

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 case involves a Romanian male national who had married a man from the United States in Brussels in 2010. When they returned to live in Romania, the Romanian government replied that it doesn't legally recognize same-sex marriages.

According to Wathelet, the term "spouse" includes, in the light of the freedom of residence of citizens of the European Union and their family members, spouses of the same sex.

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"In his opinion delivered today, advocate general Melchior Wathelet states, first of all, that the legal issue at the centre of the dispute is not that of the legalisation of same-sex marriage, but that of the free movement of European Union citizens", the court said in a statement. The couple challenged the decision in Romanian court, claiming it was discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Sophie in 't Veld, vice president of the Liberal group in the European Parliament and vice president of the European Parliament's LGBTI Intergroup, said: "This is fantastic news and a landmark opinion for rainbow families". 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 very big deal affecting untold hundreds of thousands of people. It is one of six European Union countries with no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, along with Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia.

Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 but prohibits marriage between people of the same sex, and does not recognize same-sex marriages carried out overseas.

The Advocate General also notes that the concept of "spouse" is necessarily linked to family life, which is protected in an identical manner by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

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Same-sex marriage is not legal in Romania.

"Romania's Constitutional Court recently approved and confirmed more than three million citizen signatures (in a country of less than 20 million people) calling for the national referendum".

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