Landmark court case could secure rights for gay couples across the EU
A Romanian man’s legal battle could bring sweeping new rights for gay couples across the EU.
The European Court of Justice is currently hearing the case of Romanian man Adrian Coman, who tied the knot to his American partner, Claibourn Robert Hamilton, in Belgium in 2010.
Despite their legal marriage in one EU state, Romania had sought to resist the activist’s attempts to gain residency rights for his partner, as it does not allow same-sex marriage.
But the ECJ case will consider whether provisions in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union relating to freedom of movement grant rights to same-sex spouses.
It could have an impact well beyond Romania, setting a precedent for the many European countries that do not currently allow same-sex couples to marry.
13 EU states allow same-sex couples to marry and several others allow civil unions.
Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are among the states that do not recognise same-sex partnerships.
The ECJ case will consider whether “the term ‘spouse’… includes the same-sex spouse” in Mr Coman’s case.
It will also consider whether EU law “requires the host Member State to confer the right of residence on the same-sex spouse of a citizen of the European Union”.
If Mr Coman’s challenge is successful, the ruling could require all EU states to grant legal recognition and residency rights to same-sex couples who have been married elsewhere, as would be the case for heterosexual couples.
Speaking to the New York Times, Robert Wintemute of King’s College London said: “This is the first time the European Court of Justice has been asked to decide whether ‘spouse’ includes a same-sex spouse”.
The ruling could be controversial in Romania, where US evangelicals have pushed a law to ban same-sex marriage.
The country is moving towards holding a referendum on whether same-sex unions should be constitutionally banned and made illegal.
Anti-gay US evangelicals have rallied behind the push.
Kentucky clerk Kim Davis travelled to Romania with the Liberty Counsel, a right-wing Christian law group defined as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.
In a message to supporters, the group bragged about its interventions in the eastern European country in a bid to secure a ban on same-sex marriage.
The group said: “Liberty Counsel continues to assist the citizens of Romania who are working on a nationwide constitutional referendum that would modify their Constitution to clarify that marriage is the foundational and fundamental societal institution and is naturally defined as the union of one man and one woman.
“Romania’s Constitutional Court recently approved and confirmed more than three million citizen signatures (in a country of less than 20 million people) calling for the national referendum.
“Liberty Counsel provided that Court with an amicus brief in defense of natural marriage, to counter numerous briefs filed by Soros-backed non-governmental organizations, which called on Romania to abandon its national sovereignty and cede the definition of the family to the European Union.
“As the national debate in Romania continues, Liberty Counsel’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel has just returned from a week-long trip to Romania.
“Horatio Mihet, a native Romanian, met with members of Romania’s Parliament, lawyers, judges, pastors, students and other community leaders. He shared a simple and timeless message: Marriage is worth defending.
“Mihet addressed some of the same deceptive tactics used by LGBT operatives in the United States, including the marginalization of Christian and conservative voices.
“He also countered one of the leading arguments against the amendment of the national constitution – that it is unnecessary since Romanian law already outlaws same-sex ‘marriage’ – by pointing to what the Supreme Court was able to do in the United States in the absence of a clear definition of marriage in the federal Constitution.”
Mihet, who works for the Liberty Counsel in the United States, said: “I am greatly encouraged by the collective will and resolve of the Romanian people to stand up for natural marriage,
“The pro-family movement in Romania is uniting across generational, political and denominational lines to stand up to the ‘enlightened progressives’ of Western Europe and beyond, and to reclaim Romania’s sovereignty and self-governance.
“Having participated in the Christmas Revolution of 1989, I know that freedom in Romania was won at much too high a price to now be surrendered.”
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The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has been awarded £22,000 (€246,785) in EU funding for the new research project, which academics say will “study the impact of using serious gaming technology in curbing prejudice-based bullying among children”.
The project will see development of a computer game aimed at children aged between 10 and 12 to challenge attitudes of “racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia or transphobia”.
The game will help kids “explore their own prejudiced attitudes and how harmful these can be when they lead to bullying”.