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Same-sex spouses have residency rights in all EU countries, top court rules

The European Court of Justice has issued a sweeping ruling in favour of equality.

By Will Stroude

Same-sex spouses have residency rights in all European Union (EU) member states regardless of whether or not a country has legalised marriage equality the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.

The EU’s top court ruled on Tuesday (5 June) in favour of a Romanian man who had been prevented from bringing his Americasn husband to live with him in his native country.

The Romanian government had argued that Adrian Coman’s husband Clai Hamilton, who he married in Brussels in 2010, was not entitled to join him in Romania, where marriage equality remains illegal.

However, the ECJ ruled in Mr Coman’s favour, saying the term “spouse” was gender neutral, BBC News reports.

The European Court of Justice, in Kirchberg, Luxembourg

In its ruling, the court sdaid: “Although the member states have the freedom whether or not to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex, they may not obstruct the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his same-sex spouse, a national of a country that is not an EU Member State, a derived right of residence in their territory.”

Following the court victory, Mr Coman said: “We can now look in the eyes of any public official in Romania and across the EU with certainty that our relationship is equally valuable and equally relevant.”

He added: “It is human dignity that wins today.”

Marriage equality is currently legal in 13 of 28 EU member states: The Netherlands, Belgium, Malta, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland).

Other EU countries with some form of civil union legislation are Greece, Austria, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy,  Croatia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Estonia.