Residence permit

(Application no. 51362/09), 18 May 2012

Find Court’s judgement here.

  • The applicants, a same-sex couple, complained that the refusal to grant the residence sought by the second applicant for family reasons had amounted to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
  • The European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgement on 30 June 2016.
  • It referred to the intervention by ILGA-Europe and partners, ICJ and NELFA (paras 74-77), especially that a number of jurisdictions around the world recognised that a same-sex couple in a long-term, committed and established relationship was in fact a “family member” regardless of whether the couple had been able to marry or otherwise obtain formal legal recognition for their relationship. The Court noted the interveners’ comparative analysis of the concept of “functional families” that sought to establish whether or not the relationship displayed certain essential characteristics and on the basis of which a number of countries had recognised unmarried same-sex couples as “families” or “de facto spouses” for the purposes of certain (economic or other) benefits. It also referred to the notion of indirect discrimination against unmarried same-sex couples: where same-sex couples could not marry, their situation should not be compared with that of unmarried opposite-sex couples but with that of married opposite-sex couples. 
  • The Court held that, by deciding to treat homosexual couples – for the purposes of granting a residence permit for family reasons – in the same way as heterosexual couples who had not regularised their situation the State infringed the applicants’ right not to be discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation. There was accordingly a violation of Article 14 of the Convention taken in conjunction with Article 8.

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