Romania sued at European court of rights over discrimination against same-sex married couple


A same-sex married couple and a rights group have sued Romania at the European Court of Human Right for discrimination and failing to apply rulings made by a European court and Romania’s top court.

Adrian Coman and Robert ‘Clai’ Claibourn Hamilton and Accept sued Romania for violating the couple’s rights to marriage, non-discrimination, a family life and access to justice, they said Monday.

The Strasbourg-based court has set the case in motion, a statement from Bucharest said.

The European Court of Justice and Romania’s Constitutional Court recognized the couple as legally married in 2018, in what was seen as two of the most important rulings made for LGBTI people in the EU and Romania in recent years.

Despite the two court rulings in their favor, their situation hasn’t changed in Romania, Accept said.

Adrian and Clai Hamilton met in Central Park, New York City, in 2002. The relationship continued to flourish and they were married in Brussels in 2010, but were unable to settle in Romania.

“Courts which should have solved the case of discrimination initiated by Adrian, Clai and Accept against the General Inspectorate for Immigration and the Interior Affairs Ministry have failed,” the statement said.

The group said two courts had cited “procedural exceptions” which showed “an aberrant lack of interest on their side to resolve (the situation) … instead of applying the superior court decisions.”

As a result, the couple who live in New York are unable to live in Romania together because the immigration bureau has refused to give Clai, a U.S. citizen a residence permit on the “discriminatory grounds”  that Romania doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages which are contracted outside Romania.

Romania does not recognize gay marriages conducted abroad or at home, where it is prohibited. It is among six EU nations, including Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia, that do not offer legal recognition for same-sex relationships. 

“We hope our move with the ECHR will allow all marginalized LGBTI groups in Europe to hope for judicial recognition for a family life, marriage and in the long term a better life, free of hate and discrimination” said Teodora Ion-Rotaru, the executive director of Accept.


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