European Court of Human Rights

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European Court Rules Transgender People Must Divorce for Gender Recognition in Many Countries

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Europe MapIn a terribly disappointing ruling, the European Court of Human Rights says countries that do not have marriage equality laws can force transgender people to divorce before recognizing their gender, or prevent them from marrying.

Gay Star News reports:

Married trans people living in countries without same-sex marriage must divorce if they want their true gender recognized, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled. Heli Haemaelaeinen, a Finnish trans woman, lost her case yesterday (16 July). She was told she can only have her female gender recognized if she divorces her wife. The ECHR ruled there is no obligation on states without gay marriage laws to marry two people of the same gender if one of the partners is transgender. The couple, married in 1996 and have a 12-year-old child, wanted to stay together and be married.

Can you imagine being asked to make the choice between being identified as a man or a woman or being able to be married to your partner?

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Greece: European Court Says Greek Civil Unions Law Violates Human Rights

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

GreeceIn a ruling today, the European Court of Human Rights has found that Greece’s civil unions law that excludes same-sex couples is in violation of European human rights law.

FIDH.org reports:

In a judgment in the joint cases of Vallianatos and Mylonas v. Greece and C.S. and others v. Greece delivered today, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greece had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by excluding same-sex couples from a “civil union”, restricted in Greece to heterosexual couples. FIDH, ILGA-Europe, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), AIRE-Centre and the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR) welcome this important decision. The organisations had submitted written comments about the case to the Court in June 2011…

In its decision, the Court ruled that Greece had failed to provide a convincing justification for excluding same-sex couples. The Government’s argument, according to which the law’s main purpose was to protect children of unmarried parents, did not constitute a valid reason, because the law’s real objective was the legal recognition of a new form of family life. Therefore, exclusion of same-sex couples breaches the Convention.

Will Greece follow the ruling?

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European Court Says Marriage Equality Not a Human Right

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that same-sex marriage is not a human right and concluded that “if gay couples are allowed to marry, any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.”

The decision throws a wrench into the British government’s plan to legalize marriage equality, as it has maintained that “no church would have to conduct gay weddings.”

“The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage,” the court found in a case “involving a lesbian couple in a civil partnership who complained the French courts would not allow them to adopt a child as a couple.”

Full Story from Think Progress

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European Court Turns Down Austrian Couple’s Marriage Equality Lawsuit

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Austria Gay MarriageThe European Court of Human Rights has refused permission to appeal in a challenge to the ban on gay marriage in Austria. The effect of the decision is to make the court’s rejection of the same-sex couple’s claim final.

The decision means that the European Court of Human Rights will not force states to allow same-sex couples to marry, for now at least. This has a potential bearing on the UK, where a number of same-sex and heterosexual couples are currently bringing claims against UK laws which permit civil partnerships for same-sex couples but prevents them from marrying.

Horst Michael Schalk and Johann Franz Kopf claimed that the Austrian system – which from 1 January 2010 allowed for “registered” partnerships along similar lines to civil partnerships in the UK – breached their human rights. Specifically, they argued that the laws breached their article 12 “right to marry and found a family”, their article 8 rights to family life and their article 14 rights to be protected from discrimination.

Full Story from The UK Human Rights Blog

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Russia: Lesbian Couple Files Complaint With European Court of Human Rights

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

A Russian lesbian couple appealed to the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday after a registry office in Moscow declined to register their same-sex marriage.

When Irina Fet and Irina Shipitko, who have tried to get married since 2009, were turned away, it hardly came as a surprise in a country where the crime of homosexuality was removed from the books in 1993, and where homophobia remains high and often turns to violence.

“A complaint [on same-sex marriage] was lodged against Russia,” gay activist Nikolai Alexeyev said.

Full Story from Rianovosti

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European Court of Human Rights: Countries Don’t Have to Allow Gay Marriage

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

In a key judgment issued today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on a complaint of a homosexual couple in Austria who were denied the right to marry. Although very recently (January 2010) Austria created the possibility to enter into a Registered Partnership for same-sex couples, marriage still is not possible. The applicants in this case, Schalk and Kopf, complained both under article 12 (right to marry) and article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with article 8 (right to private and family life). The court found no violation of their human rights, although it was very divided on the issue of discrimination (four votes against three in holding that Austria did not discriminate).

On the right to marry of article 12 ECHR, the court observed this was the first case in which it exmained whether people of the same sex had the right to marry. In earlier cases, the court had looked at the position of transsexuals, in which it had concluded that (para. 53)

“article 12 enshrined the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The court acknowledged that a number of contracting states had extended marriage to same-sex partners, but went on to say that this reflected their own vision of the role of marriage in their societies and did not flow from an interpretation of the fundamental right as laid down by the contracting states in the Convention in 1950.”

Full Story from the Guardian

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Poland: Negative Reaction to Court Ruling on Gay Widower

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Polish conservatives have long warned that cozying up to western Europe may help the country’s economy and security, but carries grave dangers of importing western values that are anathema to traditionalists. They have been proven correct by a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled on whether a common law spouse of a deceased man could take over his rights to rent a low-cost apartment from the government of the western Polish city of Szczecin.

The common law spouse was a man, Piotr Kozak, and Polish law, which only recognizes marriage as “a union of a man and a woman,” makes no provision for same-sex couples.

After his partner’s death in 1998, Kozak was turned down by the city in his request to stay in the apartment, and his claims were rejected by a series of Polish courts before he went to the Human Rights Court (which is not connected to the European Union) in Strasbourg. There, the court found that, while protecting the family was a legitimate reason which could justify a difference in treatment, it also found that the 1953 Human Rights Convention “is a living instrument, to be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions.”

Full Story from the Global Post

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