How far has the battle for marriage equality come? The European Court of Human Rights has just ruled that Italy's failure to provide any legal recognition for same sex relationships violates the right to privacy and family life:
Italy violates human rights by not offering adequate legal protection and recognition to same-sex couples, a European court has ruled.
The European court ruling on Tuesday said gay couples were essentially forced to live double lives in Italy: they could live openly in their relationships, but they did not receive any official recognition of their status as a family.
Specifically the court ruled that Italy was in violation of article eight of the European convention on human rights, which provides for the right to respect for privacy and family life.
The case was brought by three gay couples – all men – who do not have the right to marry or enter into a civil union and described the challenges the lack of recognition posed in their daily lives. The legal move was led by Enrico Oliari, president of a gay rights group called GayLib.
“We are delighted,” Oliari said in a statement. “We arrived at this conclusion at the end of a battle that began 18 years ago with our association and an eight-year fight in the courtroom.”
The court awarded damages and costs to the complainants, and urged Italy to legislate to recognise same sex relationships. Italy's NeoLiberal Prime Minister has promised to do that, but has never bothered to actually act on it. Hopefully this ruling - and the threat of future damages claims - will force him to do so. Meanwhile, its also a clear challenge to Eastern European bigot states like Poland and Slovakia, which have passed Texas-style constitutional amendments against marriage equality and refuse any recognition at all to same sex couples. The ECHR has basicly just said that that position is illegal and will have to change. Hopefully they'll get the message and act soon.
The full judgement is here.