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Romania grants residence rights to same-sex married couples

Romania grants residence rights to same-sex married couples

Marchers at this year's Bucharest Pride.

In a historic ruling, Romania’s Constitutional Court (RCC) recognized same-sex married couples on 18 July. Following the Bulgarian court’s decision, the Romanian state recognized the right of residence of same-sex married couples if one of the members is an EU citizen.

Romania is still one of the six EU countries that have no legislation relating to same-sex marriage or civil partnerships.

The case at the European Court of Justice

The issue was first brought to the attention of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) by a Romanian-American gay couple.

Romanian LGBT activist Adrian Coman and his American partner Robert Claibourn Hamilton tied the knot in Belgium in 2010. The couple then attempted to relocate to Romania in 2012.

As the country did not recognize same-sex marriage, US citizen Claibourn Hamilton could only stay in Romania for three months. The couple then moved to the US while they went through several court hearings, including CCR in 2016. Their case eventually ended up at the ECJ.

Two men getting married
The ECJ urged EU countries to grant residence rights to same-sex married couples.| Photo: Flickr/CityofStPete

EU countries must recognize same-sex couples

Last June, the ECJ ruled that EU countries may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant residence rights to their non-EU same-sex partner.

The court also said that Claibourn Hamilton should be allowed to live in Romania as Adrian’s husband. The ruling prompted the Romanian court to make a decision.

There’s still a long way to legalize same-sex marriage in Romania

If you think that today’s historic move might lead to legalizing same-sex marriage in the country, however, you might want to think twice.

Romania’s Constitutional Court said the ruling referred exclusively to residence rights of married same-sex couples. It clarifies it did not rule on the recognition of same-sex marriage.

‘We have recognized [it] in the spirit of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union,’ Valer Dorneanu, the president of the CCR, announced.

Marchers at Bucharest Pride
Bucharest Pride on 9 June 2018. | Photo: Yellow via Associatia Accept

‘We urge politicians to legalize civil unions’

Vlad Viski, executive director of Romanian LGBTI advocacy group MozaiQ, commented on the decision.

‘It is an important first step towards equality for the LGBTI community. We believe this decision to be a strong signal towards the main political parties that gay couples deserve full recognition under the law. Therefore we urge politicians to legalize civil unions,’ he said.

‘While today’s decision does not go as far as to recognize gay marriages performed in an EU-member state, it gives the LGBTI community in Romania hope that things can change and the fight for equal recognition under the law must continue.’

GSN reached out to Coman and Claibourn Hamilton for comments.

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