Press release: European Court of Human Rights delivers decision on obligation for Member States to recognise same-sex partnerships

Strasbourg, 17 January 2023

The European Court of Human Rights, tasked with the interpretation and application of the European Convention on Human Rights, delivered today a landmark judgement in the case of Fedotova and Others v. Russia.[1] The case concerned the Russian authorities’ refusal to ensure legal recognition and protection for the applicants as same-sex couples.[2]

The Court stated that “none of the public-interest grounds put forward by the Government prevails over the applicants’ interest in having their respective relationships adequately recognised and protected by law” and concluded “that [Russia] has overstepped its margin of appreciation and has failed to comply with its positive obligation to secure the applicants’ right to respect for their private and family life.”[3] In so doing, the Court respectively demonstrated that, under Article 8 of the Convention, all Council of Europe member States, including all the EU Member States, have an obligation to put in place “a specific legal framework” for the recognition of same-sex couples, in the absence of same-sex marriage. This was stated clearly by the Court in the judgement[4] and had been stated in the previous cases of Oliari and Orlandi.

Currently, six EU Member States do not provide any legal framework for such recognition: Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Pierre Karleskind (Renew Europe), Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, comments:

Today, justice is done across the Council of Europe area. This Court judgement crystalises what the LGBTIQ community has revindicated for years: that their relationships deserve as much right to legal recognition (and protection) as any other couple. With this in mind, we will keep advocating for the remaining EU Member States to make steadfast progress at national level to respect and implement the Court’s interpretation.

Maria Walsh MEP (EPP Group), Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, concludes:

Today is a glorious day for our community and their restless advocacy. We can only thank all the activists and the plaintiffs of this case for the endless efforts in keeping this fight going. This judgement can only be deemed a categorical stance on where our European continent stands. It is high time rainbow families get the protection and recognition they deserve, and we will keep pressing to ensure that this judgement will one day be translated into a mandatory recognition of relationships in cross-border cases.


[1] European Court of Human Rights (17 January 2023), “Case of Fedotova and Others v. Russia”, available at https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-222750.

[2] European Court of Human Rights (17 January 2023), “Press Release: By refusing any form of legal recognition and protection for same-sex couples, the Russian Federation breached the Convention”, available at https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7542820-10360056.

[3] Case paragraphs ¶224-225.

[4] Case paragraph ¶178.


Press contacts:

Office of Pierre Karleskind MEP – Victor Belaud (Victor.Belaud@europarl.europa.eu)

Office of Maria Walsh MEP – Barry McCarthy (Barry.McCarthy@europarl.europa.eu)

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