European Union top court told same-sex spouses have residence rights

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

Despite their legal marriage in a fellow European Union state, Romania is resisting the activist's attempts to gain residency rights for his husband, as it does not allow same-sex marriage.

Wathelet maintains that European Union law defines "spouse" includes legal married partners of the same sex and makes no reference to member nations' definition of the word.

The finding involves the case of Romanian national Adrian Coman and his American partner, Clai Hamilton, who tied the knot in Brussels in 2010 but have since been denied the right to live in Romania together.

The official opinion of the advocate general - the highest officers of the court who advise judges on how to rule on complex cases - will now be considered by a panel of ECJ judges.

"They can not hinder freedom of residence of a citizen of Union by denying grant to ir spouse, of same sex, national of a non-member State of Union, a right of permanent residence in ir territory", he says.

Romania has laws that prohibit the marriage of same sex couples, and doesn't recognise them at all in the legal system - resulting in the Romanian nationals spouse being unable to take up residence as the spouse of an European Union citizen.

Wathelet arrived on a one-day official visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a series of meetings with the country's
European Union countries should recognise same-sex marriages, says European court's senior adviser

Romania's constitutional court referred the matter to the ECJ.

Wathelet wrote that the definition of marriage being between two persons of the opposite sex was becoming outdated, referring to "the general evolution of the societies of the member states of the European Union in the last decade in the area of authorisation of same-sex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

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

"Romanian citizens can not be divided into good and gay". 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 fact that Mr. Hamilton did not live continuously with Mr. Coman in [Brussels] does not seem to me to be capable of rendering their relationship ineffective", he wrote.

Basically, Wathelet's opinion lays the groundwork for a landmark LGBTQ rights victory that would affect Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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