Euro Parliament says all EU countries must recognize marriages

By Rex Wockner

International News

The European Parliament said Nov. 23 that civil documents -- birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, etc. -- must be recognized the same in every European Union nation.

That means countries that don't allow same-sex marriage or civil unions are expected to recognize such unions from countries that do.

The Parliament said it "strongly supports plans to enable the mutual recognition of the effects of civil status documents" and "stresses the need to ensure mutual recognition" of them.

The next step is for the European Commission to propose ways to achieve mutual recognition of all partnerships and marriages throughout the EU.

"This is a great development for the many couples and families who see their fundamental rights diminished every day when crossing a border inside the EU," said Ulrike Lunacek, co-president of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

Co-President Michael Cashman said the statement adopted by the Parliament "follows the Commission's assertion in September that freedom of movement must be guaranteed for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation."

"Claims that mutual recognition will undermine national sovereignty are plain wrong; it won't affect national marriage or partnership laws, but simply recognize civil unions that already exist," Cashman said.

Member nations of the European Union are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Currently seeking to join the EU are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Elsewhere, it is legal in Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Mexico City, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

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