Intergroup event discussed mutual recognition of same-sex unions

Thursday, 11 November 2010

On the 21st October 2010, the LGBT Intergroup held a meeting in Strasbourg to discuss the mutual recognition of same-sex marriages and civil partnerships in the EU.

Representatives of the European Commission and ILGA-Europe presented the state of play for EU countries to recognise one another’s civil status documents, including civil partnership and marriage status. The meeting gathered a dozen Members of the European Parliament as well as their staff.

Poster IGM 7.4 Mutual recognition

The Intergroup continues to work on the mutual recognition of same-sex unions as part of its current priorities.

Summary of the presentations

Silvan Agius, Policy Director at ILGA-Europe

Download ILGA-Europe’s PowerPoint presentation (PPT)

ILGA-Europe appreciates Commissioner Viviane Reding’s determination to enforce rights pertaining to mutual recognition, but considers that current freedom of movement legislation doesn’t provide for the portability of civil status.

Since the adoption of the Freedom of Movement Directive, many more Member States have extended their marriage laws to include same-sex partners, or introduced registered partnerships (see the full list in ILGA-Europe’s presentation). However, there are currently many problems in having these various forms of unions recognised: some States simply do not recognise any same-sex unions whatsoever, and by extension they refuse to recognise same-sex unions from other countries.

We see that many gaps remain in the implementation of the Freedom of Movement Directive. In Romania for instance, Article 277 of the Civil Code prohibits domestic same-sex couples recognition, as well as the recognition of same-sex unions registered elsewhere. This means social security rights and pension rights are hindered, and children from same-sex couples lose parental ties to their non-biological parents.

To address these inequalities in the right to freedom of movement, EU institutions should:

  1. Monitor and enforce the provisions contained in the Freedom of Movement Directive more strictly;
  2. Launch a study on the obstacles to the mutual recognition of civil status;
  3. Strengthen the legal validity of civil status documents through the adoption of a European Authentication Act;
  4. Take same-sex partners into account in the implementation of the mutual recognition provisions in the Stockholm Programme, as stated in the November 2009 resolution of the European Parliament;
  5. Take same-sex partners into account when applying the newly-adopted Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Salla Saastamoinen, Head of Unit in the Directorate-General for Justice

The judicial cooperation in civil matters, including in family law, is based on the principle of mutual recognition of judgments and judicial decisions. There are already several legal instruments in the area, including Regulation 2201/2003 on matrimonial and parental matters, or Regulation 4/2009 on maintenance obligations. All these instruments must be applied in full respect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, including Article 21 banning discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

The Commission is working on implementing mutual recognition as part of the Stockholm Programme. The Commission has made (e.g. on successions) and will make (e.g. on property effects of marriage and registered partnerships) proposals in this direction.

The Commission is also working on the free circulation of public documents and the recognition of certain effects of civil status documents in the EU, and will make concrete proposals by 2013. A public consulation on the subject will be launched through a Green Book in the near future. All contributions will be welcome.

No case has yet been presented to the Court of Justice of the European Union on the legality of a Member State explicitly banning the recognition of same-sex marriages or partnerships.


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