family_2_reference

The text in the box suggests that the EU Member States that do not legally recognise same-sex marriages concluded in another EU Member State (such as Belgium, which was then one of only 6 EU Member States to recognize same-sex “marriages”) commit “serious violations of one of the fundamental EU principles – freedom of movement of citizens”.

In actual fact, however, it is perfectly legitimate for Member States not to recognise same-sex marriages. This includes without doubt also the right not to recognise same-sex marriages concluded abroad.

At the same time, it should be noted that gay and lesbian people enjoy the freedom of movement in the same way and to the same extent as any other EU citizen.

The freedom of movement for citizens means that EU citizens have the right to move and settle in another Member State than their own, provided they have a job and a domicile. Not more and not less. It does not include an obligation for Member States to receive citizens from other Member States who do not fulfil these requirements, and to provide them with social security or similar benefits. More specifically, it certainly does not include an obligation for the receiving Member State to legally recognise same-sex “marriages” contracted in another Member State, especially if such same-sex “marriages” are not foreseen in the domestic legal order.

Much in the same vein, the principle does not oblige a Member State to confer “rights”, “responsibilities” and “protections” to same-sex couples from abroad if it does not confer them under the same conditions to its own citizens. Indeed, interpreting the principle of free movement in the way suggested by the poster would unavoidably result in an absurd discrimination of the receiving Member State’s own citizens. Alternatively, it would lead to a strange and hardly desirable ‘marriage tourism’ for homosexuals, which would travel abroad (e.g. to Belgium) to get married and then return home to claim the “rights”, “responsibilities” and “protections” associated with marriage. This would render nugatory the exclusive competence of Member States (except in the situations and under the procedure set out in Article 81.3 of the TFEU) to regulate on issues related to family and marriage. Rather than the refusal of certain Member States to legislate for or recognise same-sex marriages, it is therefore the position promoted by the poster campaign that would result in apparent violations of the EU Treaty.

If the European Commission really were of the opinion that a Member State’s refusal to recognise same-sex “marriages” concluded abroad was in breach of fundamental principles of the EU Treaty, it should have the courage to take that Member State to court. In actual fact, however, Commission has never taken such legal action against any of the Member States concerned. In this situation, it should not lend its support to a publicity campaign that makes such allegations, which, until confirmed by an CJEU judgment, must be deemed unfounded.

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