EU countries must recognise residency rights of same-sex spouses

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An American man will finally be allowed to live with his Romanian husband in Romania after a groundbreaking ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on same-sex spouses.

The court decided on Tuesday that every member country in the European Union (EU) must now give equal residency rights to spouses of the same-sex even if a country has not legalised same-sex marriages.

“Although the member states have the freedom whether or not to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex, they may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his same-sex spouse, a national of a country that is not an EU Member State, a derived right of residence in their territory,” the court said.

The court also ruled that the term ‘spouse’ within the meaning of the provisions of EU law on freedom of residence for EU citizens and their family members includes spouses of the same sex.

The case concerned a bi-national couple – Relu Adrian Coman, a Romanian national, and Robert Clabourn Hamilton, an American – who married in Brussels in 2010.

When the couple applied for Hamilton to live with his husband in Romania, the authorities rejected the application on the grounds that he could not be classified as a ‘spouse’ because Romania does not recognise same-sex marriages.

Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia are the only countries in the 28-member EU that do not legally recognise same-sex relationships.

The men appealed the matter to Romania’s constitutional court. It in turn referred the case to the ECJ, which ruled in favour of the couple.

“We can now look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU with certainty that our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant,” said Coman after the judgment, reported the BBC.

“We are grateful to the EU Court and to the many people and institutions who have supported us, and through us, other same-sex couples in a similar situation. It is human dignity that wins today.”

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