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All EU countries required to recognize rights of gay spouses, according to ECJ

Countries that are part of the European Union (EU) – even those that have not legalized marriage equality – are required to respect the residency rights of same-sex spouses who want to live together in their territory.

No room to discriminate here.

Countries that are part of the European Union (EU) – even those that have not legalized marriage equality – are required to respect the residency rights of same-sex spouses who want to live together in their territory. This is according to the European court of justice (ECJ), which stated that all member states must recognize the rights of all married couples to free movement, no matter their gender or sexual orientation.

This ruling came after Romanian authorities were accused of discriminating against Adrian Coman, a gay man who wanted to be able to live in his home country with his American husband, Claibourn Robert Hamilton. The couple had been living for four years in the US before they married in Brussels in 2010. Romanian authorities initially refused to grant Hamilton a right of residence because he could not be classified in Romania as the spouse of an EU citizen. The men appealed to Romania’s constitutional court, which referred the case to Luxembourg.

Romania is one of six EU member states – along with Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia – that do not legally recognize same-sex relationships.

However, the ECJ ruled that while EU countries retain “the freedom whether or not to authorize 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 term “spouse” here is being used to refer to a person joined to another person by marriage. The ECJ stated that this is a gender-neutral term and “may therefore cover the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen”.

The ECJ further stated that this ruling does not diminish the democratic choices of Romania, but merely observed that the sexual orientation of the married couple offered no justification for obstructing free movement.

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