The European Commission is currently conducting public consultations on EU citizenship. This is a good opportunity to draw attention to the obstacles in the freedom of movement faced by same-sex couples.
Freedom of movement has always been a cornerstone of Union citizenship. Yet, same sex couples face disproportionate obstacles when traveling within the territory of the EU. Despite the EU law asking that they be treated the same way as heterosexual couples, Poland still discriminates against same sex couples who want to travel to its territory.
According to the Polish Law same-sex partner does not enjoy the status of a family member. This in itself does not violate the Directive on the rights of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States. Still, Article 3 of the Directive obliges the member states to “facilitate entry and residence of among others the “partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship, duly attested. “ Poland fails to do that. This way it not only violates the provisions of the Directive but also of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
According to Article 7 of the Charter everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and communications. Article 21 prohibits any discrimination based on any ground including sexual orientation. According to Article 52 point 3 of the Charter in so far as the Charter contains rights which correspond to rights guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the meaning and scope of those rights shall be the same as those laid down by the said Convention. The European Court of Human Rights reiterated on several occasions that not only different-sex couples enjoy family life that is protected under Article 8 of the ECHR.
The problems faced by same sex couples have been addressed by the European Parliament. In the EU Citizenship Report 2010: Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights, the European Parliament reiterated its previous calls for Member States to ensure freedom of movement for all EU citizens and their families, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or nationality.
Let’s hope the Commission will succeed in ensuring that Poland guarantees freedom of movement for all EU citizens and their families, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or nationality.
Zuzanna Warso, http://www.europapraw.org/