On June 5, 2018, the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the definition of the term ‘spouse’ includes same-sex spouses for the purposes of freedom of movement. By ruling that the term ‘spouse’ is gender neutral, the decision requires all EU member states to recognize and grant residence rights for same-sex spouses on an equal basis.
The case was brought to the ECJ by 2000 Human Rights Advocates Program alumnus Adrian Coman and spouse Claibourn Hamilton, supported by the Accept Association. Coman, a Romanian national, brought the case to the Romanian Constitutional Court in 2016 when the Romanian government denied EU residency rights to his American spouse. The Romanian court ruled against the request for a residence permit on the grounds that Romanian legislation prohibits marriages between same-sex couples. Coman and Hamilton appealed to the case on the grounds of sexual discrimination.
Coman is currently the Director of the Arcus Foundation’s International Human Rights Program. He served as the first executive director of ACCEPT, the national LGBT organization in Romania.