Romania failed to protect same-sex couples, European court rules
European court has found that Romania breached the right to respect for the family life of 21 same-sex Romanian couples by failing to recognise their relationships.
In a ruling released today, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Romania violated Article 8 (right to respect for private and family right) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
21 same-sex couples lodged over two dozen complaints to the ECHR between 2019 and 2020 arguing that, because Romania does not recognise any type of same-sex union, it was impossible for them to legally safeguard their relationships. The couples, born between 1967 and 1996, were all of Romanian nationality and currently live in various parts of the country.
The couples turned to the European court since local authorities had refused their demands. After living together for different lengths of time, the couples gave notice to the local registry offices of their intention to marry. All requests were rejected because according to the Romanian Civil code “marriage is concluded between a man and a woman” and same-sex marriage is prohibited.
In its ruling, the ECHR reiterated that Council of Europe member states are required to provide a legal framework that protects and recognises same-sex relationships. It also referred to a previous judgment Fedotova and Others v. Russia and remarked that states have some discretion on the form of recognition.
The court concluded its decision by noting that “none of the arguments put forward by the [Romanian] Government to justify the restriction on legal unions to heterosexual marriage could outweigh the applicants’ interest in having their relationships recognised.”
The 21 couples had declared that they were unable to access numerous rights available for married couples such as protections in property or inheritance, and other obstacles all same-sex couples in Romania face. ILGA-Europe provided third-party submissions jointly with FIDH, NELFA and ECSOL.
This May, Romania, ranked 41st on ILGA-Europe’s annual Rainbow Map and Index. Close to its fifth anniversary, Romania has not yet implemented the landmark judgment issued by the CJEU recognising the freedom of movement of same-sex spouses in the EU.