Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Gay couple's joy after ECJ advisor backs bid for Romania marriage recognition

Gay couple's joy after ECJ advisor backs bid for Romania marriage recognition

This week, ECJ advocate general Melchior Wathelet said that should include same-sex spouses who Wednesday in a country that has equal marriage on the books.

The gay couple, alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, challenged the decision of Romanian authorities.

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.

But because Romania does not recognise same-sex marriage, Hamilton's bid for a residence permit to live there was refused.

The ECJ's advocate general, Melchior Wathelet, said in an official legal opinion there had been "evolution" in the societies of EU countries, and the idea that "the term marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex can no longer be followed". If they confirm his opinion, the ruling will become law across the whole EU.

"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".

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One of the EU's most senior legal advisers has said that same-sex partners of European Union citizens enjoy the same free movement rights as partners of a different gender.

If Coman's bid is successful, the ruling would be controversial in Romania, where U.S. evangelicals have pushed a law to ban same-sex marriage.

"This is fantastic news and a landmark opinion for rainbow families", Sophie in 't Veld, the Dutch member of the European Parliament, told The Guardian.

"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", Wathelet said.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Romania.

Wathelet's opinion was given in the case of a Romanian national, Adrian Coman, who wanted to be able to build a life in Romania with his American husband, Claibourn Robert Hamilton, with whom he had been living for four years in the USA before marrying in Brussels in 2010. In its conclusions, known this Thursday, community lawyer opens door to a greater protection of rights of homosexual marriages in countries where it is not legalized. 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.

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