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All EU Nations Must Recognize Gay Spouses, Says European Court Official
13 January 2018, 04:45 | Glen Norman
European Court advises all EU nations must recognise same-sex couples
A legal advisor to the European Union's highest court on Thursday said gay couples should receive the same residency rights that married couples have in the European Union.
Today's decision is non-binding but the court often follows recommendations laid out by its advocates general.
Same-sex marriages or civil partnerships are recognized or have some protections in 22 of the 28 countries.
"Although member states are free to authorize marriage between persons of the same sex or not, they may not impede the freedom of residence of an European Union 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 senior adviser, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet, said in a statement released by the court.
"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 European Union citizens", they added.
The Luxembourg court is now deliberating in the case of a Romanian national, Adrian Coman, whose American husband, Claibourn Robert Hamilton, was refused residence in Romania based on the couple's 2010 marriage in Brussels.
Romania now bans gays and lesbians from legally marrying, but it does not prohibit civil partnerships between same-sex or heterosexual couples. The couple lives in NY.
About 3 million people signed a petition backing a referendum to amend the Romanian Constitution so it explicitly states that marriage only can be a union between a man and a woman.
The court is expected to make a final ruling this year.
Austria's Constitutional Court last month ruled same-sex couples will be able to legally marry by the beginning of 2019. It is one of six European Union countries with no legal recognition of same-sex relationships, along with Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.
Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 but prohibits marriage between people of the same sex, and does not recognize same-sex marriages carried out overseas.
The Associated Press reported Coman and Claibourn's case is the first time the European Court of Justice will consider whether the European Union's directive that allows European citizens and their families to "move and reside freely" within the bloc's 28 countries applies to same-sex couples who are married.
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