Same-Sex Spouses Should Have E.U. Residency Rights, Court Is Told


In November 2016, Romania’s Constitutional Court requested an interpretation of European Union law from the Court of Justice.

“Starting this litigation, we realized that we had to take it to the end, whatever the end was,” Mr. Coman said in an interview in November, when the European court, based in Luxembourg, began examining the case.

Mr. Wathelet’s opinion was well received on Thursday by groups in Romania and across Europe that represent the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“The points raised by the advocate general’s opinion are very encouraging,” ILGA-Europe, a Brussels-based advocacy group for gay and transgender rights, said in a statement on their website.

Florin Buhuceanu, president of the Romanian advocacy group Accept, said that “such an inclusive definition of what family is in the 21st century will send a very clear sign to Romanian politicians.”

Thirteen countries in the European Union allow same-sex marriage, while a further nine have civil unions or something similar.

In his opinion to the court, Mr. Wathelet pointed to the general evolution of views on same-sex marriage in member states over the last decade, adding that according to the definition generally accepted by the member states, the idea that marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex “can no longer be followed.”

The role of the 11 advocates general is to propose independent solutions for cases the Court of Justice is deliberating on. While their opinions are not legally binding, their voices are influential and tend to have a strong impact on the decisions of the court.

Iustina Ionescu, a lawyer for the couple, expressed optimism on Thursday about the prospects for her clients’ case after the advocate general’s recommendation.

“If his opinion will be accepted by the courts, it will mean jurisprudential change in the definition of ‘spouse’ according to E.U. law,” she said. “Now that we’ve managed to convince him, we are more confident that we will be able to convince the 15 judges to accept our interpretation of the directive.”

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