Today, the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in the case of Buhuceanu and others v. Romania, and found Romania in violation of Article 8 ECHR (right to private and family life) and Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 (discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation) because of its lack of regulation of same-sex civil partnerships.
The case concerned twenty-one same-sex couples from Romania who sought to enter same-sex civil partnership, an institution which does not exist under Romanian law (and is even prohibited by the Civil Code). Mr. Florin Buhuceanu, who took the lead on this case, is the former director of ACCEPT Romania.
The European Court observed that Romania “provides for only one form of family union”. It followed its findings in Oliari and stated that neither the general lack of support to same-sex partnerships by Romanian citizens, nor the legislative democratic processes, by which Romania has consistently rejected same-sex partnerships projects through its Parliament could be used to justify the rejection of the “the applicants’ interest in having their respective relationships adequately recognized and protected by law” (see para. 77 and 80 of the judgment). In stating this, the European Court found Romania to have overstepped its margin of appreciation.
What this means is that the Court has positioned itself as a law-making authority, in clear contradiction to the democratic processes of the respondent state.
This judgment will impact primarily the CoE Member States which do not have same-sex civil partnerships and will be used to pressure them into passing such partnerships into law. At the EU level, there are currently six countries with no civil unions (Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Poland).
Notably, the applicants’ claims in Buhuceanu referred mostly to pecuniary and social rights (see para. 38 of the judgment) and did not touch matters such as adoption by same-sex couples, nor access to medically assisted reproduction. Also, while the Court did hint to “social and civil rights… provided by law for married couples”, it did not explicitly impose a positive obligation on Member States to introduce civil unions as a mirror image of marriage.
On behalf of the pro-family and marriage movement in Romania, PRO VITA and Alliance of Romania’s Families have been an intervenient in this case since 2020. Read more.
Our struggle and efforts to defend marriage and family carry on. We will never give up.