Europe-wide Marriage Equality Coming Closer

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!


Gay marriage, civil unions in Europe, November 2010 (for explanation, see below)

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Marriage Equality: In Europe, a Human Right?

I have shown before how marriage equality has been spreading relentlessly across Europe, but in some cases (as in the UK), this takes the form of strong civil unions rather than full marriage. There are also a few countries, notable staunchly Catholic Italy and Poland, which are holding out. This could change.

(Dark blue – full marriage; light blue – civil unions; yellow – legislation in preparation; red – prohibited.)

The European Union has been drawing ever more closely together politically, and in the field of human rights. As some British conservatives have found to their costs, there have been numerous cases where European human rights directives have forced changes in British law. Now, an Austrian couple have taken their fight for the right to marry to the European Court of human Rights. On the face of it, the prospects are good. The court has a good record on LGBT rights, and the parameters are clear: human rights are defined to guarantee both the right to marry, and freedom from discrimination on the grounds of orientation.

“Their European case argues that in refusing them a marriage license, Austria violated articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that guarantee the rights to marry, protect one’s property and not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation.” Read the rest of this entry »