Same-Sex Spouses Should Have EU Residency Rights, Court Is Told

All EU Nations Must Recognize Gay Spouses, Says European Court Official

Melchior Wathelet, who is a Belgian advocate in the court, said that the new rules will ensure that the rights of individuals are always upheld.

But the Romanian authorities refused a request for a residence permit for Mr Hamilton, saying he could not be recognised as the spouse of an European Union citizen because Romanian legislation prohibits marriages between same-sex couples.

The directive came about after Romanian officials refused to grant residency to Claibourn Hamilton, an American who married his Romanian partner, Adrian Coman, in Brussels in 2010, reports The Guardian. The Romanian authorities said that Mr Hamilton could not be classified as a "spouse" because the country does not recognise same sex marriage.

Belgian advocate general Melchior Wathelet wrote today that European Union countries must recognise same-sex spouses in the same ways that they do straight spouses.

He noted that "the directive makes no reference to member state law in order to determine the nature of "spouse", even though that concept must be interpreted autonomously and uniformly throughout the EU". The couple challenged the decision in Romanian court, claiming it was discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The opinion, related to a case before the Court of Justice involving a Romanian man and his American husband, is not binding, but the court generally follows such advisories.

Married same-sex couples should have the same right to freedom of movement as straight spouses, a senior adviser to the European Court of Justice has said.

Advocate General Melchior Wathelet said the term "spouse" should include partners of the same sex when it came to the freedom of residence of European Union citizens and their family members.

"Freedom of movement is a right of all European Union citizens, it can not be restricted because of whom they love".

If Coman's bid is successful, the ruling would be controversial in Romania, where USA evangelicals have pushed a law to ban same-sex marriage.

"The fact that Mr. Hamilton did not live continuously with Mr. Coman in [Brussels] does not seem to me to be capable of rendering their relationship ineffective", he wrote.

Basically, Wathelet's opinion lays the groundwork for a landmark LGBTQ rights victory that would affect Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

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