LUXEMBOURG: The term "spouse" includes same-sex partners under EU law, meaning that member states cannot deny them residence rights even if gay marriage is illegal in that country, the legal advisor to the bloc's top court said Thursday.
The finding involves the case of Romanian national Adrian Coman and his American partner, Clai Hamilton, who tied the knot in Brussels in 2010 but have since been denied the right to live in Romania together.
European Court of Justice Advocate General Melchior Wathelet published a legal opinion on the case. The Luxembourg-based court but not always follows the legal opinions of its advocates general.
"The term 'spouse' includes, in the light of the freedom of residence of citizens of the EU and their family members, spouses of the same sex," Wathelet said.
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"Although Member States are free to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex or not, they may not impede the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his or her spouse of the same sex, a national of a non-EU country, a right of permanent residence in their territory."
Coman and Hamilton have been fighting for years to have their legal status as spouses officially recognised in Romania, where there is strong anti-gay sentiment.
Romania's constitutional court referred the matter to the ECJ.
Homosexuality in Romania was illegal until 2000, when the country decriminalised it after harsh criticism from the European Union and the Council of Europe.
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