Italy : Court backs legal recognition for same-sex couples

Human rights judges today awarded €44,000 to six gay men and ruled that Italy should introduce possibility of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Oliari and Others v. Italy (application no. 18766/11 and 36030/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the complaint by three homosexual couples that under Italian legislation they do not have the possibility to get married or enter into any other type of civil union.

The court considered that the legal protection currently available to same-sex couples in Italy – as was shown by the applicants’ situation – did not only fail to provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship, but it was also not sufficiently reliable.

A civil union or registered partnership would be the most appropriate way for same-sex couples like the applicants to have their relationship legally recognised.

The court pointed out, in particular, that there was a trend among Council of Europe member States towards legal recognition of same-sex couples – 24 out of the 47 member States having legislated in favour of such recognition – and that the Italian Constitutional Court had repeatedly called for such protection and recognition.

Furthermore, according to recent surveys, a majority of the Italian population supported legal recognition of
homosexual couples.

Just satisfaction (Article 41)

The Court held that Italy was to pay each of the applicants 5,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage; it was to pay to Mr Oliari and Mr A. jointly EUR 4,000, and to Mr Felicetti, Mr Zappa, Mr Cippo and Mr Zaccheo jointly EUR 10,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

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