Human-Rights Court Says European Countries Not Required To Offer Same-Sex Marriage

We always thought Europeans were more evolved than the Colonies, but the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) made the same bonehead argument against marriage equality as American opponents, ruling this week that if gay and lesbian couples were allowed to marry, “any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.”

The Court was hearing a case involving a lesbian couple who had been denied the right to adopt a child in France because, in legal terms, they were not a couple. In its verdict, it stated that same-sex marriage is not a human right: “The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.”

While this is a setback for marriage advocates on the Continent, the ECHR isn’t affiliated with the European Union and, hopefully, this ruling won’t affect the current push for gay marriage in Great Britain.

Source: Think Progress. Photo: Fred Schaerli


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  • Fodolodo

    Why do people believe that silly Daily Mail article?

  • Robert in NYC

    The ECHR ruling is NOT going to affect the marriage equality situation in the UK. All it will do is probably give impetus to the opponents, nothing more. The ECHR is in fact incorrect when it states that allowing “any church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it declines to marry same-sex couples.” There are currently 5 EU member states allowing same-sex marriage, soon to be 6 when Denmark legalises it this June. (Norway is not a member but allows same-sex marriage, as does Iceland). None of those 5 compel any religious denomination to recognize or participate in same-sex marriages. There have been no lawsuits to that effect either. The UK’s marriage equality consultation has already made it quite clear from the outset that it too won’t force any religion to participate. In fact, it states it will be illegal for any denomination to perform them, although Lord Ali, muslim member of the House of Lords may introduce an amendment permitting denominations to participate by their own choosing.

  • Danny

    The European Convention on Human Rights was never a comprehensive document. Also, Europe cannot even enforce such basic human rights as freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom from discrimination (on any number of grounds), and freedom of speech or belief (Ireland alone massively violates this one) so human rights and Europe have a vast distance to go on many levels. Individual countries may be good, but many are horrible.

  • No-Obot

    The so-called European Court of “Human Rights” should be renamed the “European Court of Heterosexual Privilege”. Hitler and Stalin would be proud. Sadly, future generations and history will prove how unjust and inhumane they really are with this bigoted decision — especially because they had to jump through hoops of deception in order to justify their homophobia.

    Using their perverted legal “logic” then a Jewish temple could be accused of “discrimination” if it does not marry a Catholic and the Catholic church could be accused legal “discrimination” if it does not permit a divorced member to remarry in their church without a formal annulment from the church. The ECHR is lying.

    No one can ever emphasis how truly vile and dishonest they are with this ruling. To a lesser degree, this is Europe’s Plessy versus Ferguson Supreme Court decision which allowed racial discrimination in the USA in our shameful past. Separate is NEVER equal, no matter how you try to spin it.

    I guess, like our President, they haven’t quite “evolved” yet on the moral imperative of equal human right for all.

  • DM

    @ No-Obot, isn’t there an unspoken rule that when you mention Hitler you lose the argument?

    Besides that the Daily Mail article bent the wording of the ruling to serve its own purposes, and didn’t even mention the actual name of the case (Gas and Dubois v. France (application no. 25951/07)), so as to hide its tracks so to speak. I would want to read the actual decision before taking the Daily Mail’s word that that is what was contained in the decision – especially since the quote used in the article above comes not from the ECHR ruling but is a quote from Neil Addison, a ‘specialist in discrimination law’, according to the Daily Mail, a man who runs the website, so we can guess his political leanings. As far as I can tell, the ECHR ruling was quite narrowly related to the adoption of an unmarried (though PACSed) partner’s child, illegal since unmarried couples cannot jointly adopt in France.

    The Daily Mail really is not the best place to get this sort of news from, but really I would expect the author of this article to read carefully before taking a scaremongering quote out of context and prodding the Europeans, saying ‘look you’re just as bad as us!’

    We’re not perfect, but the ECHR has been a valuable tool in the fight for actual equality rather than name. In addition the EHCR has expressed its willingness to enforce gay marriage (changing the interpretation of the right to marriage clause)across Europe when a majority of states have accepted it. see

    More importantly, in Europe the ECHR has consistently ruled against discrimination on the basis of sexuality (in the case of German making registered partnerships virtually the equivalents of marriage with regards to taxes, pensions,etc.), ruled that gay households should be considered as families for the purposes of law, and protecting those rights once they have been achieved. It would be impossible for a Proposition 8 to repeal marriage equality in those countries that have it. It also means I can’t be fired for being gay (have you forgotten ENDA?), nor can governments constitutionally ban any form of same-sex relationship recognition (many US states), although they can still constitutionally limit marriages to opposite-sex couples. All in all, I am legally much better off under the jurisdiction of the ECHR than I would be under the US Supreme Court.

  • Europe's Double Standard

    Europe likes to lecture other regions of the world on civil rights, while blithely ignoring and trampling them itself.

  • Alliage

    This Sunday there will be a referendum in Slovenia about a new law that equalises same-sex partnerships with married hetero couples in all legal issues (till now you could get registered but you could not adopt children etc). The law has already been passed but the catholics started a big campaign and collected signatures for a referendum … So this Sunday, on Mother’s Day, we will hopefully show the right-wing idiots that they cannot impose their hypocritical false morals on the rest of the citizens.
    Public polls now show a 70% support for the new law, but you never now with these polls…

  • Robert in NYC

    The ECHR is fast becoming irrelevant in the EU. Individual countries are gradually getting on the marriage equality train without it. Denmark in June, Finland getting ready as well as the UK. Get France and Germany on board, the Council of Europe may well consider a change of policy. From the outset, after Holland became the first country to legalize it, the ECHR made it quite clear it wasn’t interfering in the marriage equality issue. This too shall pass as more countries adopt full equality, just a question of time. It’s coming whether they like it or not, inevitable as well they know.

  • Freddie

    The European Convention on Human Rights is NOT like the US Constitution. The Constitution has had very strict limits on how each state can treats its people ever since the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore it’s reasonable for David Boies and Ted Olson to make the argument that both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses demand that each state allow gay marriage. The ECHR is VERY different, the same way the US and the EU are two very different types of entity. The ECHR was written in the 1950s as a way of preventing countries from outrageously violating human and civil rights. Thus, in Dudgeon v United Kingdom (1982), they stopped countries from enforcing laws that criminalized gay sex. BUT they’re generally not going to get involved in each country’s affairs unless the human rights violation is absolutely outrageous. It is not the founding document of a country like the Constitution is and thus it allows each country a lot of leeway in how they treat their citizens unless they’ve passed an absolutely shocking law that strongly attacks civil rights. There is no appetite in Europe for increasing its power either. Marriage equality in Europe will be achieved state by state, unlike in America, where hopefully the Supreme Court will rule soon.

  • Robert in NYC

    @Freddie: What if the Supreme Court refuses to take the case? Marriage equality in the EU is progressing at a far faster rate than states in the U.S. There are also no referenda in the EU to overturn legislation once laws such as marriage equality are passed. Even in the UK where the marriage equality consultation has begun, if it passes in Parliament and probably will, but fails in the House of Lords, the government can within its right invoke the Parliament Act of 1911 in which case marriage equality would become law anyway with or without the upper house’s vote, the British version of checks and balances.

  • Edouard de Mas

    @Europe’s Double Standard: That’s not quite true. The court’s decision is related to a very complex legal argument which was using a “need” for adoption as the justification for the validity of same-sex unions. In any event the decision has no real negative effect on the LGBT community. Gay marriage has been legal in a number of EU countries for years (here in Spain since 2005). France has had civil unions for many years and the candidate poised to win the next election has gay marriage on his platform. Apart from that gay marriage is also legal in Belgium, Holland, Portugal and Sweden- and civil unions with the same rights as marriage are legal in many others. So European countries actually are at the helm of the fight for equality.

  • Robert in NYC

    @Edouard de Mas: I totally agree with your statement. This ruling has no bearing on other EU countries to proceed to full marriage equality which is what exactly is happening. Denmark in June, Finland and the UK probably next year and if Francois Hollande of France beats Sarkozy, then France too. The domino effect is inevitable.

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