The Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, has called for marriage equality to be legalised across Europe.
He said that this could be achieved by a legislation that would force member states, who have not legalised marriage equality, to recognise same-sex marriages or unions conducted in other member states.
Timmermans made made this statement during an Equality Gala in Brussels hosted by ILGA-Europe, saying the ultimate goal was to get all states to “unreservedly” embrace equality.
The Vice President vowed to launch a campaign to put forward such a legislations across the EU.
He stated: “I believe the Commission should go forward, and try to get all Member States in the EU to unreservedly accept same-sex marriage as other marriages.”
“I am now going to personally take this up and push it forward.
“Even if you don’t want to have same-sex marriage in your country, at least have the decency to accept that other countries do have it and recognize that marriage when people move to your country who are married.”
Well over half of the 28 EU member states have not legalised marriage equality, with some not even having same-sex civil partnership legal.
Currently, Belgium, Finland, France, Denmark, Ireland Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK (England, Wales and Scotland – but not Northern Ireland).
If such a legislations is passed, Northern Ireland, for example, would be forced to register same-sex marriages or civil unions conducted elsewhere in the EU.
This statement build on his previous speech a week ago when he said it was a “disgrace” that same-sex married couples moving to another country “run into all sorts of idiotic problems” mixed-sex couples would not face in the same situation.
These problems could include loss of pension rights, inheritance, next-of-kin rights or child custody rights.
Commenting on the news, Alyn Smith, SNP MEP and member of the EU Intergroup on LGBTI Rights (ILGBTIR) told KaleidoScot: “There are plenty equality allies in the European Commission, and I’m pleased. Vice President Timmermanns has made such a public and vocal commitment to encourage member states to get with the times.
“We must though remember that it is entirely for the member states to legislate to best suit their needs, but recognising the rights of other EU nationals is a cornerstone of EU law. The tide is with us.”
Ian Duncan, Scottish Conservative MEP and Vice-President of ILGBTIR welcomed Timmermans’ statement, telling KaleidoScot: “I welcome the words of Vice President Timmermans. Same sex couples should not have to face barriers in other European countries that are not faced by mixed-sex couples. I have written to Mr Timmermans to ask what action he will be taking to follow up on his pledge”
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of ILGBTIR reacted: “I strongly applaud these words by Vice President Timmermans, which confirm that bonds of love and their legal recognition, no matter whether conducted between same-sex or opposite-sex couples, should be treated equally.”
“I look forward to working with Mr Timmermans to ensure that this will be reality sooner rather than later.”
Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-President of ILGBTIR, added: “Why would two married women and their children be recognised as a family in one EU Member state, and as two single women with orphans in another? This is what happens in Italy, as I underlined in the conference ‘Europe: Families without borders!’ and in the video ‘If you are married in Europe you are married in Italy, too.’”
“Indeed this does not make sense and may create dangerous situations. I am very glad to see that Vice President Timmermans is committed to ensure that the effects of same-sex marriages are recognised EU-wide.”