Romania should protect same-sex relations, says Court in Strasbourg


Eastern Europe


Romania may legislate for marriage as it likes, but it has to give protection to alternative relations, the European Court says. Photo AFP, Kenzo Tribouillard

Romania has a duty to give legal protection to same-sex relationships. The European Court of Human Rights concludes that. However, Romania does not need to recognise adopted children from these couples.

On Tuesday, the ECHR in Strasbourg concluded that the Romanian state is breaching Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (about respect for private and family life) by not allowing same-sex couples to marry or register civil partnerships.

Romanian law describes marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, and same-sex marriage is forbidden. However, other countries with comparable legislation sometimes know specific legal protection of alternative relations.

Several media report about the ruling, among others Balkan Insight.

“The court observes that Romanian law provides for only one form of family union – an opposite-sex marriage and does not provide for legal recognition for same-sex couples,” said the ruling. “The Court found in particular that Romania had a duty to provide adequate recognition and protection for same-sex relationships, although it had discretion as to the form and the protections afforded”, the press release says. “None of the Government’s arguments regarding same-sex marriage could outweigh the applicants’ interest in having their unions recognised.”


The ruling can be seen as a victory for LGBT campaigners. The decision came in response to a case brought against the Romanian state by the Association Accept, which fights for the rights of the LGBT community on behalf of 21 same-sex couples.

The ECHR observed that the Romanian state did not tell the court that it has “any intention to amend its domestic law” in favour of same-sex couples. “On the contrary, several attempts to pass legislation in this field (coming from a few members of the parliament) have not received the support of the parliament or the government,” the judges said. “The State’s behaviour illustrated a systemic problem that needed to be addressed not only by the adoption of legislation recognising the right to marry and to enter into civil partnerships but also by tackling homophobia in Romanian society.”


After the decision, the president of the National Council for Combating Discrimination, CNCD, Csaba Asztalos, said that Romania should adopt legislation to protect the rights of same-sex couples.

“The solution would be to adopt a civil partnership law, which in my opinion, should also apply to heterosexual couples, not only to those formed by people of the same sex,” Csaba Asztalos was quoted by Balkan Insight.

However, he added that ECHR’s decision does not extend to the possibility of adoption by same-sex couples in Romania.

The Court’s decision comes when the European Commission proposes recognising parenthood between the EU Member States. Although there is quite some criticism towards this proposal, most notably from France and Italy, adopting this proposal would mean that Romania would still have to recognise adopted children of foreign gay couples.

Research from 2021 showed that 43 per cent of the Romanian population would support a form of legal protection of same-sex relations, France24 remembers.


Already in 2018, the Constitutional Court of Romania ruled that the state had to recognise the right of residence in Romania of same-sex married people if one of the members of the couple is an EU citizen.

However, legislators still need to change something to address the ruling, which could result in sanctions imposed by the Council of Europe for a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.



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