Make gay marriage legal across Europe, says top EU official
Same-sex marriage should be legal across Europe, a senior EU official has said, as he gave his backing to campaigners who argue that unions should be recognised under freedom of movement rules.
Frans Timmermans, the vice president of the European Commission, said it was a "disgrace" that some European countries do not recognise same-sex partnerships formed elsewhere in the union.
The Commission, the executive arm of the EU, should lobby for same-sex marriages across the 28-nation bloc, he said.
It follows calls from campaigners for same-sex relationships to be enshrined under EU freedom of movement rules.
Campaigners in Brussels argue that the rights granted to a same-sex couple in one state should be maintained if they move to another European country, regardless of local laws. Refusal to do so undermines freedom of movement, a core EU principle, they argue.
Such a move would allow a same-sex couple married in Britain to maintain shared legal rights on property, pensions and access to children if they moved to Italy, which does not recognise the unions.
"I believe the Commission should go forward, and try to get all Member States in the EU to unreservedly accept same-sex marriage as other marriages," the Dutch diplomat said last week.
"Even if they don't have same-sex marriage yet in their own country, to at least to have the decency to respect the decision of other countries to have same-sex marriage. The fact that when people move to another country they run into all sorts of idiotic problems that married couples who aren't from the same sex never run into, I think that is a disgrace."
Same-sex marriages are currently recognised in eight of 28 EU states: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Finland will follow from 2017.
Civil partnerships, granting legal recognition of relationships but falling short of marriage, are recognised in all states except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia.
In several states, including Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman in the constitution, presenting a significant obstacle to reform.