Thursday

19th Apr 2018

Focus

EU top lawyer says Romania must accept gay partners

  • The term 'spouse' in EU legislation is gender neutral, says advocate general (Photo: zelle duda)

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

Advocate general Melchior Wathelet at the Court of Justice of the European Union wrote in an opinion published on Thursday (11 January) that Romania was wrong to deny a work and residence permit to the male spouse of a Romanian man.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Although member states are free to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex or not, they may not impede the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his or her spouse of the same sex, a national of a non-EU country, a right of permanent residence in their territory," the court said, summarising Wathelet's analysis in a press statement.

The case involves a Romanian male national who had married a man from the United States in Brussels in 2010.

Two years later, the couple wanted to move to Romania, and requested the necessary documents. Romania, which does not allow same-sex marriages, refused.

A 2004 directive on the EU's freedom of movement principle gives rights to an EU citizen's spouse, without specifying how 'spouse' is defined.

According to top lawyer Wathelet, the word spouse is gender neutral.

He noted that "the directive makes no reference to member state law in order to determine the nature of 'spouse', even though that concept must be interpreted autonomously and uniformly throughout the EU".

Wathelet wrote that the definition of marriage being between two persons of the opposite sex was becoming outdated, referring to "the general evolution of the societies of the member states of the EU in the last decade in the area of authorisation of same-sex marriage".

He stressed that EU countries are free to decide if they will allow same-sex marriage in their territory, but that they have to accept such marriages concluded in other EU states.

"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 EU citizens," he wrote.

Advocates general's opinions are not binding, but the court often rules the same way as the advocate general.

Malta legalises same-sex marriage

Once regarded as conservative, the catholic island of 440,000 becomes the latest EU country to allow same sex couples to marry.

EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  2. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  3. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  4. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  5. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  6. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  7. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit
  8. Merkel and Macron meet to finetune eurozone reform plans

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeParabéNs! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  2. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  3. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  4. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  5. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  6. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  10. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector

Latest News

  1. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  2. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  3. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  4. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists
  5. Getting secret EU trilogue documents: a case study
  6. Selmayr case scars Parliament and Commission
  7. Beyond macho: Turkish-EU ties
  8. 'Flobert' guns - Europe's latest terror loophole