Strasbourg Court: family reunification rights also count for same-sex couples

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Yesterday, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that refusing same-sex couples residence permits with the purpose of family reunification on the basis of their sexual orientation is discriminatory.

European Court of Human RightsThe case was brought to the European Court after Ms Pajić, a woman from Bosnia-Herzegovina, was refused a Croatian residence permit that she requested to be reunited with her Croatian partner. At the time of the first request in 2011, the two women had been in a stable relationship for two years.

The Court recognised that there had been a violation of Article 14 (the right to non-discrimination) in conjunction with Article 8 (the right to family life), as all same-sex couples were excluded from the possibility of obtaining family reunification.

Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, reacted: “I strongly welcome this judgement by the European Court of Human Rights, which illustrates just one of the practical problems same-sex couples encounter due to institutional discrimination. Same-sex couples, just like opposite-sex couples, often like to live together and should have equal access to this right.”

“The ruling shows the way forward for the EU, and beyond. Discriminatory provisions still prevent same-sex couples, often with children, to exercise their right to freedom of movement. I hope this ruling encourages the Commission to prepare legislation on mutual recognition of civil status documents, including registered partnerships.”

Malin Björk MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, continued: “I am also glad the Court recognised that a same-sex couple in a stable partnership falls within the notion of ‘family life’.”

“Everyone deserves the same right to family life, without discrimination. Rainbow families face many issues due to unjust discrimination. This ruling should encourage us all to address all problems that LGBTI people and fix them!”

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