The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have issued rulings in recent weeks finding that Romania and Ukraine violated the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide any form of legal recognition and protection for same-sex couples.
In both cases, same-sex couples living in these countries attempted to marry but their attempts were rejected by local officials, leading to unsatisfactory efforts to get local courts to rule against the governments.
The governments invoked public opposition to marriage equality and argued that same-sex couples could enter into contracts that would deal with some of the issues they were raising. Both governments asserted that the issue of civil unions for same-sex partners was being studied and had reached various stages of serious consideration, but in neither country was affirmative legislative action imminent.
The governments argued that under the concept of “margin of appreciation” recognized under European Convention case law, they should not be compelled to provide marriages or civil unions for same-sex couples affording the same rights enjoyed by married different-sex couples.
The ECHR ruled two articles of the European Convention are brought into play by these cases, Articles 8 and 14.
Article 8: "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Article 14: "The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, or other status.”
The European Court concludes that Articles 8 and 14, either individually or considered in conjunction with each other, require states that are parties to the convention to open up the right to marry to same-sex couples.
ILGA-Europe recently produced the Rainbow Map and Index since 2009, using it to illustrate the legal and policy situation of LGBTI people in Europe. The Rainbow Map and Index ranks 49 European countries on their respective legal and policy practices for LGBTI people, from 0-100%.
It's time Romania and Ukraine!!!