LGBTI rights in the Balkans: A perpetual struggle

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05/03/2019

Romanian Adrian Coman and his American-born partner Clai Hamilton had two major reasons to celebrate when they tied the knot last June. One of course, was their marriage. The other was the historic legal victory they scored when their case before Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) led to the recognition of same sex marriage for the purpose of freedom of movement in the European Union (EU). The case, challenging current law, represented a significant victory for LGBTQI rights, in particular in Eastern Europe. The couple had married in Belgium in 2010 and later decided to settle in Coman’s native Romania. But Hamilton was denied residency rights because the civil code does not recognise same-sex marriages. So, they took the matter to the Romanian courts, which referred it to the CJEU. Romania currently ranks 35th out of the 49 countries assessed by the European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe,), in terms of its equality laws and policies. Romania compares fairly favourably – when it comes to protecting and promoting LGBTQI rights – to many other Balkan states. But there is an apparent disconnect between the Romanian government’s intentions and public opinion.

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