Hopes high for LGBT rights across Europe following landmark court case

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Campaigners are hopeful that progress on LGBT rights could speed up across Europe – following a historic ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.

In a historic ruling that stemmed from an Italian rights case, the ECHR yesterday ruled that not recognising same-sex couples is a breach of their human rights.

While it currently only applies to Italy, campaigners believe the case has precedent that could lead to all 47 member countries granting equal rights to same-sex couples – and push governments into speeding up reforms.

Joyce Hamilton, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said “We really hope this judgment will speed up the process of legal recognition of same-sex unions not only in Italy, but also in other 22 countries of the Council of Europe which currently do not legally acknowledge same-sex unions.

“We encourage politicians and law makers in those countries to reflect on the judgment and the realities of same-sex unions and to side with equality, respect and dignity for all couples.”

Co-Chair Paulo Corte-Real added: “This judgment is a call for immediate action in Italy. The groundswell of positive public opinion and political support that was so evident in Italy following the Irish marriage equality referendum led to the promise of the long-anticipated partnership bill before the summer.

“We were very disappointed to see it delayed until the parliament returns in the autumn. This decision makes it clear that Italian politicians must act swiftly – and decisively.”

“While the Oliari judgment is only legally binding on Italy, it signals a significant evolution in the ECtHR approach which now affirms the right of same-sex unions to be officially recognised.

“The Court pointed out that 24 of the 47 Council of Europe member states provide same-sex couples with protection and recognition; this is a trend that simply cannot be ignored.

“It will provide LGBTI advocates in the remaining Council of Europe states who do not recognise same-sex couples with compelling arguments for protection.”

Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship, is currently the only country in Europe that is not a signatory to the ECHR, which was drawn up after the Second World War.

However, British Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to rule out withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights amid re-drafting of the UK’s human rights laws.