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Opinion of the Advocate-General at the CJEU states the term ‘spouse’ includes spouses of the same sex

In his non-binding opinion, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet states that while EU countries are free to authorise marriage between persons of the same sex, they may not impede the freedom of residence of an EU citizen by refusing to grant his or her spouse of the same sex, a national of a non-EU country, the right of permanent residence in their territory.

The opinion follows a request for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) from the Curtea Constituţională a României (Constitutional Court of Romania). Case C 673/16 Coman and Others .

A legal action was brought before the Court of First Instance in Romania after an American man was refused residency in Romania with his Romanian husband, because gay marriage is illegal there.

In his opinion, the Advocate General clarifies the interpretation of the concept of ‘spouse’ within the applicability of Directive 2004/38/EC on the freedom of movement. In his conclusion, he says that there has been a general evolution in the societies of EU countries and that the idea that ‘marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex’ can no longer be followed.

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