The Court of First Instance has confirmed a Council decision and refused to assimilate stable relationships between two persons of the same sex to relationships between married persons
A Community official of Swedish nationality claimed from his employer, the Council, the household allowance provided for by the Staff Regulations for Community Officials, requesting that the Council assimilate his partnership with a person of the same sex, which was duly registered by the Swedish authorities, to marriage.
Since 1995 it has been possible for two persons of the same sex to have their partnership registered by the Swedish authorities, which attach legal consequences thereto largely identical to those of marriage.
The Council refused to assimilate the registered partnership to marriage for the purposes of the Staff Regulations and dismissed the applicant's request.
The Swedish official challenged the Council's refusal before the Court of First Instance.
The Court of First Instance considered the legality of the Council's refusal, as a matter of law, in the light of the provisions applicable at the time of the request, that is to say, 1996.
The Court endorsed the Council's approach, stating that the latter was under no duty to refer to the laws of the Member States (in this case, Swedish law) in interpreting and applying the Staff Regulations for Officials, in particular as regards the consequences for a person living with a partner of the same sex. It emphasized that the regulations governing the Community civil service refer exclusively to civil marriage, in the traditional sense of the term.
Community law does not as yet assimilate stable relationships between two persons of the same sex to relationships between married persons.
Consequently, the Council was not obliged to extend the household allowance to an official living with a partner of the same sex under a status recognized by Swedish law.
Although the Staff Regulations for Officials were amended in 1998 so as to ensure equal treatment without reference to sexual orientation, it is for the Council to adopt, if necessary, the necessary amendments to take into account such situations.
NB: an appeal, limited to questions of law, may be brought before the Court of Justice of the European Communities against that decision of the Court of First Instance within two months of its notification.
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