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More Rights for Same-sex Partners in Europe

by Redaktie in History & Politics , 07 June 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Legal recognition of gender equality is gaining a bigger foothold in Europe. Same-sex partners are getting more access to more and more rights in more and more European countries. This is evidenced by research by legal scientists from Leiden and French demographers. They have published a detailed data bank and a comparative analysis on the subject.

Within the European Union (EU), almost all countries now agree that same-sex partners deserve legal recognition - at least if one of the partners dies or in case of disease, accident, or violence. A similarly large majority of EU countries now recognize the right of same-sex partners to live together in the same country.

These are the main results of a study led by Kees Waaldijk, professor of Comparative Sexual Orientation Law at Leiden University. However, parental rights remain controversial. In a majority of EU countries, children can now be adopted by their mother or father's same-sex partner.

Progress in Most of Europe

Equal partners can now enter into marriage or registered partnership in 21 of the 28 EU member states (in 2005 in only 10). And this also applies to a majority of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe. Recently, Greece and Italy gave same-sex couples the possibility of partnership registration, and Ireland and Finland have opened up marriage to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, adoption by same-sex partners was also made possible in Portugal and Austria. In Germany and Slovenia (and to a lesser extent also in the Czech Republic) the legal consequences of a registered partnership are more and more similar to that of the (heterosexual) marriage. And in Poland and Bulgaria, same-sex couples are beginning to gain some legal recognition.

LawsAndFamilies Database

Kees WaaldijkAll this and much more (such as the gradual growing recognition of unmarried cohabitation of heterosexual couples) has now been documented in the LawsAndFamilies Database. This new interactive database covers 60 legal aspects of marriage, partnership and cohabitation over the last 50 years, for both same sex and opposite sex couples in more than 20 European countries.

The database was created by a team of legal scientists (led by Kees Waaldijk), together with a team of demographers and sociologists (led by Marie Digoix, associated with INED in Paris).

A comparative analysis of this large collection of data was published last April under the title: More and more together – Legal family formats for same-sex and different-sex couples in European countries.

The French Institute for Demography INED was responsible for the technical aspects of this EU-funded project. Researchers from INED (in close cooperation with colleagues from Spain and Italy) also analysed a large number of interviews with same-sex partners in four countries, and statistics on marriages and partnership registrations in twelve countries. These data and analyses are now accessible to everyone in the LawsAndFamilies Database.

European Courts

Prof. Kees Waaldijk concludes: “This growing European consensus can help the European Court of Human Rights to decide which - minimal - rights should become available to same-sex partners in each of the 47 countries of the Council of Europe. And the Court of Justice of the EU can build on this undeniable trend by deciding that all 28 EU countries must now recognize gay marriages entered into in other Member States - at least in terms of immigration and the freedom of movement of persons."



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