Marriage equality, Europe-wide, just came an important step closer: the EU parliament this morning passed a resolution which will require all member states to recognise marriages or civil unions contracted in any other. At present, seven EU countries provide for full marriage for same-sex couples, many others have civil unions which are nearly equivalent in legal force. The major exceptions are Italy, Greece and some of the former Communist countries in the East and the Baltic states.
This new requirement does not (yet) require recognition of same sex unions in all states, but it does improve the prospects. This is just the latest in a series of moves that are standardising approaches to human rights across the Union – including protection from discrimination. The need to recognize foreign marriages will also increase still further the pressure on countries like Italy, Greece and Poland which are still resisting. All EU residents have an automatic right of residence in every other EU country. The new regulation will give foreign gay nationals with marriage or civil union certificates recognition for their unions, and any legal benefits that apply to any other married couples. Their own citizens will not enjoy the same benefits: their governments will be discriminating against them, in favour of foreigners!