'Spouse' includes same-sex partners, European Union court adviser says

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

Melchior Wathelet, who is a Belgian advocate in the court, said that the new rules will ensure that the rights of individuals are always upheld.

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.

Adrian Coman, a Romanian, and Claibourn Robert Hamilton, an American, married in Belgium in 2010, seven years after the country legalized same-sex marriage. The Romanian authorities said that Mr Hamilton could not be classified as a "spouse" because the country does not recognise same sex marriage.

Married gay couples have the same rights of residency as heterosexual spouses under European Union freedom of movement laws even if same sex marriage is banned in the country they move to, a senior EU judge has said.

EU law permits a in the member state where the European national resides.

However, the Romanian authorities refused to grant Mr Hamilton that right of residence on the ground, inter alia, that he could not be classified in Romania as the "spouse" of an European Union citizen, that member state not recognising same-sex marriage.

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The senior adviser also stated that "in the area of family reunification, the objective of protecting the traditional family can not justify discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation".

Once the ECJ has made its decision, the case will return to Romanian court. Combined, they could soon require each of the EU's 28 member nations to extend the rights and benefits of marriage equality to LGBTQ people across Europe - European Union gay marriage right would be big deal affecting untold hundreds of thousands of people.

A senior adviser to the European Union's top court has backed a Romanian gay man's right to have his U.S. husband live with him in Romania.

Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 but prohibits marriage between people of the same sex, and does not recognize same-sex marriages carried out overseas. They would have been compelled to do so had Mr Coman's partner been of the opposite sex.

More than a dozen European Union countries have not legalised marriage equality, including Italy, Greece and Slovenia, but Wathelet was at pains to emphasise that this case was not about same-sex marriage. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia still grant no legal recognition to same-sex couples.

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