Same-sex marriage will finally be legal in Finland on 1 March 2017. That will bring the total number of EU Member-States that recognise same-sex marriage up to eleven. However, that will still leave 17 European countries where same-sex marriage is not legal. In many Eastern European countries, the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is enshrined in the constitution.
For same-sex couples, this confusing legal landscape throws up several issues. If they move from one European country to another, will they have the same rights as straight couples in terms of things like pensions, guardianship of children, legal wills, and so on? Should their marriage be recognised across the entire European Union?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Luca on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, asking how LGBT rights (including on issues such as same-sex marriage and adoption) can be improved across the continent. Would recognising same-sex marriage not be a good first step?
Should same-sex marriage be legalised across Europe? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
Yes, of course. I think that’s important. Human rights are for all.
Yes. When it comes to gay marriage, there is a clear contradiction in Europe. On the one hand, we do not define marriage at the European level. Family law is a national competence. Yet, on the other hand, we have decided at the European level (because it’s in the treaties) that we’re not allowed to discriminate against people. So, if you apply that principle logically, somebody should be able to go to court and ask: ‘Why am I not allowed to marry as a homosexual?’
We also have freedom of movement in Europe, and if you are a heterosexual married couple and you move to another country, you have no problem. But if you are a same-sex couple and you move to another country, you lose your rights: Social security, child benefits, and so on. That is discrimination on the basis of sexuality…
I would say that, for me, the most important element for this issue is the first article of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which speaks about respect for human dignity… On the other hand, I believe we should approach this issue in dialogue and in full sensitivity for the diversity of views.
There is also another aspect, which we speak about frequently in the European Parliament. I belong to those who think that this issue it is not a European competence to decide, but rather it should be left to Member States. So, we do need to respect the principle of subsidiarity, which is very important within the legal structure of the European Union,.
Beatrix von Storch (EFDD), Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs:
Curious to know more about same-sex marriage across Europe? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / Flickr – European Parliament