Free Press Journal

Gay couples have equal residency rights


EU court rules in favour of same-sex rights, says…

Brussels : The European Union’s (EU) top court on Tuesday ruled in favour of a Romanian gay man’s right to have his American husband live with him in Romania.

The country, which does not recognise same-sex marriage, had argued that the American was not entitled to the EU residency rights awarded to spouses, the BBC reported.

But the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said the term “spouse” was gender neutral. Adrian Coman and his American partner Clai Hamilton were married in Brussels in 2010.

The ECJ ruled that member states should recognise gay marriages contracted in fellow EU states, and grant couples the same residency rights that other families enjoy.

“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 observes, “First of all, that the directive on the exercise of freedom of movement governs only the conditions determining whether an EU citizen can enter and reside in Member States other than that of which he is a national and does not confer a derived right of residence on nationals of a non-EU State who are family members of an EU citizen in the Member State of which that citizen is a national. The directive cannot, therefore, confer a derived right of residence on Hamilton in the Member State of which Coman is a national, namely Romania.

The Court nonetheless observes that in certain cases, nationals of non-EU states, family members of an EU citizen, who are not eligible, on the basis of the directive, for a derived right of residence in the Member State of which that citizen is a national, could be accorded such a right on the basis of Article 21(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (a provision which confers directly on EU citizens the primary and individual right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States).

EU law permits a non-EU spouse of an EU citizen to join his or her spouse in the member state where the European national resides, reports the BBC.

Same-sex marriage is legal in these EU countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) and Malta.