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The situation in NI is miserable of course, and judgment in X (2017) seemed to reinforce the intractability of ECHR deference to member-state sovereignty. (The ECHR Unanimously Confirms the Non-Existence of a Right to Gay Marriage, 2016, with the spirit of the double-edged sword known in the US as the 10th amendment.)
BUT the game is afoot to by-pass conservative opposition to civil liberty entrenched in legislatures. Ironically, a vanguard emerges from the EC wielding "freedom of movement." Let's recall the ECJ judgement in Coman (2018) narrowly reversed its own position. Finding in favor of a third-country petitioner seeking same-sex "marriage" permit in Romania, the court liberated definitions of "spouse" and "family" to allow the EC to prosecute discriminatory treatment of "gendered" persons in the inter-state, or international, venue of EURLEX. Lithuania's constitutional court fell in line (ECJ ruling on same-sex marriage begins to have repercussions across emerging Europe, 2019). Estonia (Estonian court: Right to protection of family life also to same-sex couples, 2019) and Bulgaria (Bulgaria Court Recognizes Gay Marriage in Landmark Case, 2019) courts also voluntarily responded. I for one am encouraged by this show of judicial "activism."
Though mores in former communist or Central Europe are in the spot light, comparative analysis in "More and more together: Legal family formats for same-sex and different-sex couples in European countries" (2017) shows that legal defense and enforcement of LGBT civil rights is pretty weak across EU28/EEA. Let's be honest: Realizing a uniform standard of "human rights" in Europe isn't another Cold War front. EU gov's ground campaign to reinforce the sentiment and electoral prerogatives of the "76%" is a good thing though.
EPRS Briefing | The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union, May 2019
Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law.
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