The European Court of Justice, EU’s top court, ruled on Tuesday that married gay couples have the same residence rights as straight couples in Romania in what is considered a landmark case involving a Romanian LGBT activist and his American partner.
EU countries should recognise the right of all spouses to residency even if they do not allow gay marriage, according to EU’s top court.
“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,” EU’s court of justice said on Tuesday.
Romanian LGBT activist Adrian Coman and his American partner, Robert Claibourn Hamiliton, obtained a marriage certificate in Belgium in 2010. This case began in 2012, when the couple attempted to relocate to Romania.
Romania’s immigration authorities refused to legally recognise their marriage, so Coman and Hamilton responded by suing the Romanian government on the grounds that their right to freedom of movement within the EU had been violated.
Romania’s constitutional court then referred the case to the EU’s court of justice.
“The Court nonetheless considers that the refusal by a Member State to recognise, for the sole purpose of granting a derived right of residence to a national of a non-EU state, the marriage of that national to an EU citizen of the same sex lawfully concluded in another Member State may interfere with the exercise of that citizen’s right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. That could have the effect that freedom of movement from one Member State to another would vary depending on whether or not provisions of national law allow marriage between persons of the same sex,” the court said.
Homosexuality was decriminalised in Romania in 2000, but aversion to same-sex couples within the country continue to run high, according to LGBT activists.