The case got to the Court when Italian authorities and courts refused the application for residence on family grounds of Mr McCall, a New Zealand national, arguing they were not ‘spouses’ under Italian law.
The Court noted that the refusal to grant Mr McCall a residence permit had meant that he was legally obliged to leave Italy. That fact had prevented the couple from continuing to live together in Italy and violating respect for family life, as guaranteed by Article 8.
The Court also pointed out that the situation of the couple could not be understood as comparable to that of an unmarried heterosexual couple, as there was no way to obtain any other form of legal recognition of their situation in Italy. At the time of the application Italy did not yet have civil union legislation.
Daniele Viotti MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, reacted: “The case of this couple illustrates very practically what kind of discriminatory barriers same-sex couples run into in Europe. Simply receiving a residence permit allowing you to be with your loved one, was made impossible and has indeed forced them to leave Italy over its refusal to recognise their right to family life.”
“In this regard I strongly welcome the Court’s ruling which confirms that everyone has the right to be with the one they love, irrespective of whether it concerns a same-sex couple or an opposite-sex couple.”
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBTI Intergroup, added: “While for Italy this ruling does not mean a big change anymore now that they’ve adopted civil union law, I believe this ruling sets a tremendously important precedent.”
“It means that all countries in the Council of Europe, from Norway to Azerbaijan and from Portugal to Finland have to ensure that international same-sex couples rights to a residency permit.”
“It is now time for the Commission and Member States to take their responsibility and set a long overdue EU framework for mutual recognition of civil status documents, including rights attached to marriage and registered partnerships, as called for by Parliament repeatedly. They cannot turn a blind eye, and leave it to the courts to compensate for their lack of courage. We urge the Commission to put forward proposals as soon as possible.”