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Recognition of same-sex unions in Europe

Laws regarding same-sex partnerships in Europe¹
  Marriage
  Civil union
  Limited domestic recognition (cohabitation)
  Limited foreign recognition (residency rights)
  Unrecognized
  Constitution limits marriage to opposite-sex couples
¹ May include recent laws or court decisions that have not yet entered into effect.

Debate has occurred throughout Europe over proposals to legalise same-sex marriage as well as same-sex civil unions. Currently 29 of the 50 countries and 8 of the 9 dependent territories in Europe[nb 1] recognise some type of same-sex unions, among them most members of the European Union (23/28).

As of January 2019, sixteen European countries legally recognise and perform same-sex marriages: Austria, Belgium, Denmark and the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and most of the United Kingdom.[nb 2] An additional thirteen European countries legally recognise some form of civil union, namely Andorra, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Northern Ireland, San Marino, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Poland and Slovakia recognise cohabitation for very limited purposes. Slovakia recognises same-sex marriages performed within the EU and including an EU citizen.

Of the countries that recognise and perform same-sex marriages some still allow couples to enter civil unions, e.g. Benelux countries, France and the United Kingdom,[nb 3] whereas Germany, Ireland and the Nordic countries have terminated their pre-marriage civil union legislation so that existing unions remain but new ones are not possible.

Several European countries do not recognise any form of same-sex unions. Marriage is defined as a union solely between a man and a woman in the constitutions of Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. Of these, however, Croatia and Hungary recognise same-sex partnerships.

Current situationEdit

International levelEdit

European Court of Human RightsEdit

Over the years, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has handled cases that challenged the lack of legal recognition of same-sex couples in certain member states. The Court has held that the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) requires member states to provide legal recognition, but does not require marriage to be opened to same-sex couples.

In Schalk and Kopf v Austria (24 June 2010), the European Court of Human Rights decided that the European Convention on Human Rights does not oblige member states to legislate for or legally recognise same-sex marriages. However, the Court, for the first time, accepted same-sex relationships as a form of "family life".

In Vallianatos and Others v Greece (7 November 2013),[1] the Court held that exclusion of same-sex couples from registering a civil union, a legal form of partnership available to opposite-sex couples, violates the Convention. Greece had enacted a law in 2008 that established civil unions for opposite-sex couples only. A 2015 law extended partnership rights to same-sex couples.

Oliari and Others v Italy (21 July 2015)[2] went further and established a positive obligation upon member states to provide legal recognition for same-sex couples. Italy thus breached the Convention; it eventually implemented civil unions in 2016. The decision set a precedent for potential future cases regarding the 23 member states, certain British and Dutch territories, and the states with limited recognition (excluding Kosovo), that currently do not recognise same-sex couples' right to family life.

Chapin and Charpentier v France (9 June 2016) largely confirmed Schalk and Kopf v. Austria, holding that denying a same-sex couple access to marriage does not violate the Convention. At the time of the judgment, France did allow same-sex marriage, however, the case originated from 2004, when only pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) was available to same-sex couples in France.

European UnionEdit

 
Same-sex unions in the European Union
  Marriage
  Civil unions equivalent to marriage
  Civil unions with limited rights
  Unregistered cohabitation
  Residency rights for foreign spouses (all EU states)

Some debate occurred within the European Union about how to require member states to recognise same-sex marriages conducted in other member states, as well as any European citizens' civil unions or registered partnerships, so as to ensure the right of freedom of movement for citizens' family members.[3]

In 2010, Romanian LGBT activist Adrian Coman and his American partner, Robert Claibourn Hamilton, married in Belgium, and subsequently attempted to relocate to Romania. Romanian authorities refused to recognise their marriage and the case progressed to the European Court of Justice.[4] On 11 January 2018, the ECJ’s advocate general, Melchior Wathelet, issued an official legal opinion stating that an EU member country cannot refuse residency rights to the same-sex spouse of an EU citizen on the grounds that it does not recognise same-sex marriage.[5]

On 5 June 2018 the ECJ ruled in Coman's favour, stating the term "spouse" was gender-neutral, and member states are therefore obliged to recognise EU residency rights for partners of EU citizens. However, the court confirmed that it will still be up to member states whether to authorise same-sex marriage.[6][7]

National levelEdit

Status Country Since Country population
(Last Census count)
Marriage
(16 countries)
* In eight countries that have passed marriage,
other types of partnerships are available too.
  Austria* 2019[8] 8,504,850
  Belgium* 2003[9] 11,198,638
  Denmark 2012[10] 5,655,750
  Finland 2017[11][12] 5,470,820
  France* 2013[13] 66,030,000
  Germany 2017[14] 80,716,000
  Iceland 2010[15] 325,671
  Ireland 2015[16] 4,609,600
  Luxembourg* 2015[17] 549,680
  Malta* 2017[18] 446,547
  Netherlands[nb 4]* 2001[19][20] 16,856,620
  Norway 2009[21] 5,136,700
  Portugal* 2010[22] 10,427,301
  Spain 2005[23] 46,704,314
  Sweden 2009[24] 10,161,797
  United Kingdom[nb 2]* 2014[25][26] 62,700,000[nb 5]
Subtotal 334,999,576
(45.2% of the European population)
Recognition of foreign marriage
(2 countries)
* Constitutional ban on domestic same-sex marriage
  Armenia* 2017[27] 3,018,854
  Estonia 2016[28] 1,315,819
Subtotal 4,334,673
(0.5% of the European population)
Other type of partnership
(11 countries)
* In four of the countries that have passed other types of partnerships,
yet another type of partnership is available too.
  Andorra* 2005[nb 6][29] 85,082
  Croatia 2014[nb 7][30] 4,284,889
  Czech Republic* 2006[nb 8][31] 10,513,209
  Cyprus[nb 9] 2015[32] 1,117,000[nb 10]
  Greece 2015[33] 10,816,286
  Hungary* 2009[nb 11][34] 9,877,365
  Italy* 2016[nb 12][35] 60,782,668
  Liechtenstein 2011[36] 37,132
  San Marino 2019[37] 32,570
  Slovenia 2006[nb 13][38][39] 2,061,085
  Switzerland 2007[40] 8,183,800
Subtotal 107,791,086
(12.6% of the European population)
Unregistered cohabitation
(2 countries)
  Slovakia 2018[41][42] 5,415,949
  Poland 2012[43] 38,516,527
Subtotal 43,932,476
(4.7% of the European population)
Total 452,591,390
(57% of the European population)
No recognition
(10 countries)
  Albania 3,020,209
  Azerbaijan 9,494,600
  Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,871,643
  Kazakhstan 17,948,816
  Monaco 36,371
  North Macedonia 2,058,539
  Romania 19,942,642
  Russia 143,700,000
  Turkey 76,667,864
  Vatican City 842
Subtotal 276,741,526
(37.94% of the European population)
Constitutional ban on marriage
(14 countries)
* Foreign marriages are recognised.[44]
** Other types of partnerships are available.
  Armenia* 2015[45] 3,018,854
  Belarus 1994[46] 9,475,100
  Bulgaria 1991[47] 7,364,570
  Croatia** 2013[48][49] 4,284,889
  Georgia 2018[50] 4,935,880
  Hungary** 2012[51][52] 9,877,365
  Latvia 2006[53][54] 1,990,300
  Lithuania 1992[55] 2,944,459
  Moldova 1994[56] 3,557,600
  Montenegro 2007[57] 647,905
  Poland 1997[58][59][60][61] 38,483,957
  Serbia 2006[62] 7,209,764
  Slovakia 2014[63][64] 5,415,949
  Ukraine 1996[65] 44,291,413
Subtotal 143,498,005
(18.66% of the European population)
Total 420,239,531
(49.3% of the European population)

Partially-recognised and unrecognised statesEdit

Status Country Since State population
(Last estimate count)
No recognition
(5 states)
  Abkhazia 243,564
  Kosovo 1,907,592
  Northern Cyprus 313,626
  South Ossetia 51,547
  Transnistria 475,665
Subtotal 2,991,994
Constitutional ban on marriage
(1 state)
  Artsakh 2006[66] 150,932
Subtotal 150,932
Total 3,142,926

Sub-national levelEdit

Status Country Jurisdiction Legal since Jurisdiction population
(Last Census count)
Marriage
(7 jurisdictions)
  Denmark   Faroe Islands 2017[67][68] 49,198
  United Kingdom   Akrotiri and Dhekelia 2014[69] 15,700
  Alderney 2018[70] 2,020
  Gibraltar 2016[71][72] 32,194
  Guernsey 2017[73][74] 62,948
  Isle of Man 2016[75] 84,497
  Jersey 2018[76] 100,080
Total 342,637
(0.04% of the European population)
Other type of partnership
(1 jurisdiction)
  United Kingdom   Northern Ireland 2005[77] 1,864,000
Total 1,964,080
(0.22% of the European population)
No recognition
(1 jurisdiction)
  United Kingdom   Sark 600
Total 600
(0.001% of the European population)

Future legislationEdit

MarriageEdit

Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majorityEdit

  Czech Republic: On 13 June 2018, 46 deputies from ANO 2011, the Pirate Party, the Czech Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party, TOP 09 and Mayors and Independents submitted a bill to legalise same-sex marriage. The Civic Democratic Party, Freedom and Direct Democracy and KDU–ČSL are opposed.[78] On 22 June 2018 the Czech government gave their backing to the bill.[79] The first reading of the same-sex marriage bill was scheduled for 31 October, but was held some weeks later, on 14 November.[80][81] A vote on the legislation was expected on 26 March 2019 but did not take place.[82]

  Northern Ireland: In February 2018, Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that same-sex marriage could be legislated for in Northern Ireland by the UK Parliament, and that the Conservative government would likely allow a conscience vote for its MPs if such legislation was introduced.[83] In July 2019, an MP attached an amendment to an upcoming Northern Ireland bill, which would legalise same-sex marriage three months after the passage of the bill if the Northern Ireland Assembly remained suspended.[84] The motion passed in the House of Commons with 383 votes in favour and 73 votes against.[85][86] The MP's amendment, which was further amended by Lord Hayward during passage in the House of Lords, requires the Secretary of State to issue regulations extending same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland if the Assembly has not reconvened by 21 October 2019. If this occurs, then the regulations come into effect on 13 January 2020.[87] The bill passed its final stages in the Parliament and received royal assent on 24 July 2019.[88][89]

  Sark: The Chief Pleas will debate a motion calling on the Policy & Finance Committee to instruct the Law Officers to draft the necessary legislation to introduce same-sex marriage on the island at its 2 October 2019 meeting.[90]

  Switzerland: On 5 December 2013 the Green Liberal Party of Switzerland submitted a parliamentary initiative to the National Council, proposing a constitutional amendment allowing couples to enter into a marriage or civil union irrespective of sex and sexual orientation. On 20 February 2015 the lower house's Justice Committee recommended approval of the proposal.[91] On 1 September 2015, it was also approved by the upper house's Justice Committee, paving the way for a referendum on the constitutional amendment.[92] On 16 June 2017, the Federal Assembly voted by 118-71 in favour of a proposal by the Green Liberal party to launch a parliamentary study on same-sex marriage. On 6 July 2018, the Legal Affairs Committee voted to proceed with the initiative by legislation, rather than constitutional amendment and referendum. The committee drafted a bill in February 2019, aiming to present it in the Federal Assembly in late 2019 or early 2020, with the law possibly taking effect on 1 January 2021.[93]

Non-marital partnershipEdit

Government proposals or proposals with a parliamentary majorityEdit

  Lithuania: On 30 May 2017, Parliament approved a proposal to amend the Civil Code to recognise cohabitation agreements that would grant two or more cohabitants certain property rights without the intention to create family relations. With 46 in favor, 6 opposing and 17 abstentions, the draft proposal was approved for further consideration in the Lithuanian Parliament.[94]

  Monaco: On 27 October 2016, the National Council unanimously approved a proposal to allow civil unions (pacte de vie commune).[95] On 27 April 2017, the government responded positively to the proposal.[96] The government introduced its civil union bill on 16 April 2018, and it must be approved by the National Council before becoming law. The government's proposed bill explicitly does not recognise those in a civil union as forming a family and does not allow couples in civil unions to adopt or create step-parental ties to each other's children.[97]


Public opinionEdit

Public support for same-sex marriage from EU member states as measured from a 2015 poll is the greatest in the Netherlands (91%), Sweden (90%), Denmark (87%), Spain (84%), Ireland (80%), Belgium (77%), Luxembourg (75%), the United Kingdom (71%) and France (71%).[98] In recent years, support has risen most significantly in Malta, from 18% in 2006 to 65% in 2015 and in Ireland from 41% in 2006 to 80% in 2015.[99]

After the approval of same-sex marriage in Portugal in January 2010, 52% of the Portuguese population stated that they were in favor of the legislation.[100] In 2008, 58% of the Norwegian voters supported same-sex marriage, which was introduced in the same year, and 31 percent were against it.[101] In January 2013, 54.1% of Italians respondents supported same-sex marriage.[102] In a late January 2013 survey, 77.2% of Italians respondents supported the recognition of same-sex unions.[103]

In Greece support more than doubled between 2006 and 2015, albeit still considerably low. In 2006 15% responded that they agreed with same-sex marriages being allowed throughout Europe, whereas in 2015 33% agreed with the statement.[99]

In Ireland, a 2008 survey revealed 84% of people supported civil unions for same-sex couples (and 58% for same-sex marriage),[104] while a 2010 survey showed 67% supported same-sex marriage[105] by 2012 this figure had risen to 73% in support.[106] On 22 May 2015, 62.1% of the electorate voted to enshrine same-sex marriage in the Irish constitution as equal to heterosexual marriage.

A March 2013 survey by Taloustutkimus found that 58% of Finns supported same-sex marriage.[107]

In Croatia, a poll conducted in November 2013 revealed that 59% of Croats think that marriage should be constitutionally defined as a union between a man and a woman, while 31% do not agree with the idea.[108]

In Poland a 2013 public poll revealed that 70% of Poles reject the idea of registered partnerships.[109] Another survey in February 2013 revealed that 55% were against and 38% of Poles support the idea of registered partnerships for same-sex couples.[110]

In the European Union, support tends to be the lowest in Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Lithuania. The average percentage of support for same-sex marriage in the European Union as of 2006 when it had 25 members was 44%, which had descended from a previous percentage of 53%. The change was caused by more socially conservative nations joining the EU.[99] In 2015, with 28 members, average support was at 61%.[98]

Opinion pollsEdit

  Indicates the country/territory has legalized same-sex marriage nationwide
  Indicates that same-sex marriage is legal in certain parts of the country
  Indicates that the country has civil unions or registered partnerships
Opinion polls for same-sex marriage
Country Pollster Year For Against Neutral[a] Source
  Andorra Institut d'Estudis Andorrans 2013 70% 19% 11% [111]
  Armenia Pew Research Center 2015 3% 96% 1% [112][113]
  Austria Eurobarometer 2019 66% 30% 4% [114]
  Belarus Pew Research Center 2015 16% 81% 3% [112][115][113]
  Belgium Eurobarometer 2019 82% 17% 1% [114]
  Bosnia and Herzegovina Pew Research Center 2016 13% 84% 4% [112][113]
  Bulgaria Eurobarometer 2019 16% 74% 10% [114]
  Croatia Eurobarometer 2019 39% 55% 6% [114]
  Cyprus Eurobarometer 2019 36% 60% 4% [114]
  Czech Republic Eurobarometer 2019 48% 48% 4% [114]
  Denmark Eurobarometer 2019 89% 8% 3% [114]
  Estonia Eurobarometer 2019 41% 51% 8% [114]
  Finland Eurobarometer 2019 76% 21% 5% [114]
  France Pew Research Center 2017 79% 15% 8% [114]
  Georgia Pew Research Center 2016 3% 95% 2% [112][113]
  Germany Eurobarometer 2019 84% 12% 4% [114]
  Greece Eurobarometer 2019 39% 56% 5% [114]
  Hungary Eurobarometer 2019 33% 61% 6% [114]
  Iceland Gallup 2004 87% - - [116]
  Ireland Eurobarometer 2019 79% 13% 8% [114]
  Italy Eurobarometer 2019 58% 35% 7% [114]
  Latvia Eurobarometer 2019 24% 70% 6% [114]
  Lithuania Eurobarometer 2019 30% 63% 7% [114]
  Luxembourg Eurobarometer 2019 85% 9% 6% [114]
  Malta Eurobarometer 2019 67% 25% 8% [114]
  Moldova Pew Research Center 2015 5% 92% 3% [112][113]
  Netherlands Eurobarometer 2019 92% 8% 0% [114]
  Norway Pew Research Center 2017 72% 19% 9% [115]
  Poland Eurobarometer 2019 45% 50% 9% [114]
  Portugal Eurobarometer 2019 74% 20% 6% [114]
  Romania Eurobarometer 2019 29% 63% 8% [114]
  Russia FOM 2019 7% 87% 6% [117]
  Serbia Pew Research Center 2015 12% 83% 4% [112][113]
  Slovakia Eurobarometer 2019 20% 70% 10% [114]
  Slovenia Eurobarometer 2019 62% 35% 3% [114]
  Spain Eurobarometer 2019 86% 9% 6% [114]
  Sweden Eurobarometer 2019 92% 6% 2% [114]
   Switzerland Pew Research Center 2017 75% 24% 1% [115]
  Ukraine Pew Research Center 2016 9% 85% 6% [112][113]
  United Kingdom Eurobarometer 2019 85% 12% 3% [114]
Opinion polls for same-sex marriage by dependent territory
Country Pollster Year For Against Neutral[a] Source
  Faroe Islands Gallup Føroyar 2016 64% 30% 6% [118]
  Northern Ireland YouGov 2019 55% - - [119][120]


NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b Also comprises: Don't know; No answer; Other; Refused.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Including Armenia, but excluding Greenland.
  2. ^ a b Excluding Northern Ireland and Sark
  3. ^ Excluding Guernsey and Overseas Territories (except Gibraltar).
  4. ^ Excluding Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten.
  5. ^ Combined population of England, Wales and Scotland.
  6. ^ Stable union since 2005 and civil union since 2014.
  7. ^ Unregistered cohabitation between 2003 and 2014. Life partnerships životno partnerstvo since 2014.
  8. ^ Unregistered cohabitation since 2001 and registered partnerships registrované partnerství since 2006.
  9. ^ Excluding the disputed region of Northern Cyprus.
  10. ^ Including the disputed region of Northern Cyprus.
  11. ^ Unregistered cohabitation élettársi kapcsolat and registered partnerships bejegyzett élettársi kapcsolat since 2009.
  12. ^ Civil unions and cohabitation agreements since 2016.
  13. ^ Registrirana partnerska skupnost between 2006 and 2017. Partnership (partnerska zveza) since 2017.

ReferencesEdit

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