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Romania’s top court decides same-sex couples should have equal rights

Josh Jackman September 28, 2018
(DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

Two women kiss at Bucharest Pride 2018 (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty)

Romania’s highest court has decided same-sex couples should have the same rights as straight partners, in a landmark ruling.

The Constitutional Court in Bucharest stated that queer couples deserved a private and family life just as straight people do, adding that they should enjoy “legal and juridical recognition of their rights and obligations.”

The decision was handed down ahead of a national referendum on October 6-7 which could ban same-sex marriage by changing the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

People take part in the Bucharest Pride 2018 March gay pride parade on June 9, 2018. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
A national referendum next month could ban same-sex marriage (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty)

Human rights groups including Amnesty International, the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law, a branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association have spoken out against the vote, saying it “panders to homophobia.”

Teodora Ion-Rotaru, who represents Romanian LGBT+ rights group Accept, told the Associated Press that today’s (September 28) court ruling was “extremely important.”

She added: “It says same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexuals. The court says a same-sex family is worth as much as a heterosexual family.”

People take part in the Bucharest Pride, an event celebrating diversity and LGBT community in Bucharest on June 25, 2016. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU        (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
The court says a same-sex family is worth as much as a heterosexual family” (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty)

Despite the ruling, LGBT+ people in Romania face a hostile culture, as shown by the three million people who signed a petition asking for the referendum on preemptively banning same-sex marriage.

This week, a leading Romanian newspaper was condemned after printing a front page which featured a drag queen in a Nazi uniform.

The image on the front of România Liberă, which also features a rainbow flag on the subject’s red armband instead of a swastika, was placed next to a headline reading: “New LGBTQ order.”

It introduced an article which argued that Christians suffer from religious discrimination at the hands of pro-LGBT+ campaigners.

The cover was condemned as “shameful and cowardly” (romania libera)

Court rulings have had a positive effect on the lives of queer Romanians though.

The European Court of Justice decided in June that governments must recognise the movement rights of same-sex spouses — even in countries like Romania, which do not permit gay weddings.

The landmark ruling came in the case of Romanian national Adrian Coman, who tied the knot to American man Claibourn Robert Hamilton in Belgium in 2010.

People takes part in the Bucharest Pride march on May 20, 2017. Around 2,000 people gathered to celebrate diversity and to express their support for LGBT's comunity rights.  / AFP PHOTO / Daniel MIHAILESCU AND DANIEL MIHAILESCU        (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
Same-sex couples in Romania benefited from the ECJ ruling earlier this year (DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty)

The pair had wanted to start a life together in Romania, but because the country does not recognise same-sex unions, they were denied the spousal residency rights for Hamilton that a wife would be entitled to.

But after a legal battle with the Romanian government, the couple won a ruling in favour of gay couples across the European Union.

It also affected same-sex partners in Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia — all countries in the EU which don’t recognise same-sex marriages or offer gay spouses legal protection.

More: Constitutional Court, court, Europe, Europe, Gay, Law, romania, Romania, same sex couples

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