Report in the public interest: recognise same-sex marriages concluded abroad!
Háttér Society has submitted a report in the public interest to the Ministry of Justice proposing that the law should recognise same-sex marriages concluded abroad as registered partnerships in Hungary.
Although registered partnerships have been available in Hungary since 2009, providing almost the same rights as marriage, the Hungarian authorities refuse to recognise in Hungary same-sex marriages concluded abroad not only as marriages but even as registered partnerships, thus rendering family relationships established abroad legally non-existent. As a result, such same-sex couples are deprived of many of their rights in Hungary and, ad absurdum, can marry or conclude a registered partnership with another person, despite the fact that they are actually married.
This domestic practice, which is contrary not only to fundamental rights but also to common sense, is also in violation of EU law. Five years ago, on 5 June 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in the Coman case that all EU Member States are obliged to recognise same-sex marriages legally concluded in other EU Member States in the context of the right to free movement. The Court ruled that the concept of "spouse" in the context of the Free Movement Directive is gender-neutral and therefore covers the same-sex, third-country national spouse of an EU citizen as well. According to the judgment, Member States have an obligation to recognise same-sex marriages regardless of whether or not they provide for that in their national law.
The problem may affect hundreds of people: in recent years the Legal Aid Service of Háttér Society has been contacted by 47 Hungarian citizens who have married their same-sex partner abroad, and asked about the procedure for recognition of their marriage in Hungary. The Government Office of the Capital City of Budapest (BFKH), which is responsible for the domestic registration registry events abroad, has consistently refused to register same-sex marriages concluded abroad neither as marriages nor as registered partnerships.In all cases, BFKH has based its refusal on the legal opinion of the Ministry of Justice. In recent years, the courts have taken varying decisions on such refusals. There have been several judgments that required the government office to recognise a foreign same sex marriage as registered partnership, describing the contrary practice as unlawful and seriously discriminatory. However, in a recent decision, Curia, the highest ordinary court of the country ruled that, in the absence of an explicit legal provision, it is not possible to recognise foreign same-sex marriages as registered partnerships.
Our organization therefore submitted a report in the public interest to the Ministry of Justice, drawing their attention to the problem, and providing them a textual proposal stating that same-sex marriages concluded abroad should be recognised as registered partnerships in Hungary.
Our lobbying and strategic litigation activities on the recognition of foreign same-sex marriages in Hungary are carried out with the support of the Common Values programme, funded by the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme of the European Union, and implemented by ÖKOTÁRS Foundation and its partners.