ROMANIA: Romania must recognise same-sex civil unions, EU top rights court rules

Extract from article published on France 24 on 23/05/2023 – accessible here.

Romania must legalise same-sex civil unions, Europe’s top rights court ruled on Tuesday, in a victory for LGBTQ+ campaigners in the socially conservative southeastern European country.

Twenty-one same-sex couples took Romania to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing the lack of legal recognition of their relationships “deprived them of their dignity as spouses”. 

In a ruling on Tuesday, the ECHR found the country had violated Article 8 of the European Convention, which protects the right to respect for family life, by not giving LGBTQ+ couples any means of legally safeguarding their relationships.

The Romanian couples cited the disadvantages faced under current domestic laws, such as being barred from mortgage programmes, spousal bereavement leave or joint health insurance.

The ECHR said none of the government’s arguments outweighed the couples’ concerns, and further ruled that recognising same-sex civil unions would not harm the institution of marriage.

The ruling will become legally binding after a three-month period in which both sides have the right to appeal to a higher court of the ECHR.

If neither do, the ruling will stand and lead to Romania being required to implement legislation to introduce same-sex civil unions.