On Tuesday, May 23, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that Romania is breaching the rights of same-sex couples by refusing to implement legal protections for their unions.
The case was brought before the court by LGBTQ+ organisation ACCEPT, representing 21 same-sex couples who had previously lodged complaints with the ECtHR about the lack of safeguards for their unions in Romania. In the past, each of the couples has expressed their interest to marry in written notices to their local registry, but their requests were denied under an article that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Moreover, the local registry also rejected their request by invoking a separate article stating that same-sex marriage is “prohibited” in Romania.
In their ruling on Tuesday, a majority of seven judges established that the Romanian government is in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to respect of private and family life. Moreover, the court stated that all members of the European Union are required to provide some form of legal recognition of same-sex unions.
“The court observes that Romanian law provides for only one form of family union – an opposite-sex marriage and does not provide for legal recognition for same-sex couples,” the ruling stated. It also added that same-sex couples are unable to access many social and civil rights that are granted to opposite-sex couples because of such lack of legal recognition.
All arguments brought forward by the Romanian government were rejected by the judges, who also ruled that societal opposition to same-sex marriage should not take prevalence over the rights of LGBTQ+ people in the country.
Finally, the court observed that the Romanian state did not express “any intention to amend its domestic law to allow same-sex couples to enjoy official recognition and a legal regime offering protection”.
“On the contrary, several attempts to pass legislation in this field (coming from a few members of the parliament) have not received the support of the parliament or the government,” the judges stated.
This ruling comes only weeks after LGBTQ+ umbrella organisation ILGA-Europe published its annual Rainbow Europe review, ranking European countries on the basis of their protection of LGBTQ+ rights. Romania received a score of only 18%, making it one of the worst places for LGBTQ+ rights in Europe.
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