LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Definitive answer within reach for same-sex couple seeking recognition in Romania

The Romanian Constitutional Court has announced that it will refer questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the case of a same-sex couple who wish to be recognised as spouses in Romania.

As news of the referral reached Brussels, ILGA-Europe Advocacy Director Katrin Hugendubel commented “We know this isn’t the end of the journey for Adrian and his family – but we are edging ever closer to what could be a momentous day for them. Many couples, whose right to freely move and reside within the European Union have been limited by similar domestic restrictions, will also be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this case.”

ILGA-Europe, one of a group of five NGO third parties who have intervened in Coman, Hamilton & Association Accept, are very encouraged by the Constitutional Court’s decision. We are hopeful that the CJEU will use this occasion and, with their judgment, affirm core principles of the European Union, in particular freedom of movement and residence, also for same-sex couples.  

The decision to submit a request for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU means that the couple at the centre of the Coman case will soon have a definitive answer – one that could be valuable for many other couples across Europe in a similar situation, guaranteeing legal certainty by the uniform application of EU law. 

The Constitutional Court will seek clarification on whether a same-sex couple, married overseas, can be recognised as spouses under Romanian law by way of application of the EU law on family reunification with a EU citizen. This is the first time that the Court has referred questions to the CJEU.

Adrian Coman and his partner were married in Belgium in 2010, but their relationship is not recognised when they travel to Mr. Coman’s native Romania. The Romanian authorities refused to issue a residence permit for Mr. Coman’s husband in 2012 as the state did not recognise him as a spouse. The current case is challenging the constitutionality of the section of the domestic Civil Code that excludes same-sex marriages carried out abroad from being recognised in Romania.