Married in Sweden – but single in another EU Member State?
21 May 2021
A same-sex marriage entered into in one EU Member State may not be recognised in another. The argument is often that such a marriage is too different from the country’s own laws and policies. In a new dissertation on private international law, Laima Vaige analyses how this application of the law compares with the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law.
While in many EU Member States, two people of the same sex are permitted to marry on the same terms as a man and women, this is not the case in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, although the latter does allow same-sex couples to register their partnerships. The laws and policies of these states are studied by Laima Vaige in her doctoral dissertation. She also looks at the cultural reasons behind these laws and policies.
Under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, all EU citizens enjoy the right to freedom of movement to move from one Member State to another. So, what happens if a married same-sex couple move to a country where same-sex couples are not permitted to marry?
Each Member State retains the autonomy to decide which country’s laws apply to the recognition of a marriage’s validity. In Estonia, the rules refer to the law of the state in which the spouses had a habitual residence at the time of marriage. In Latvia and Poland, the rules refer to the law of the state in which the spouses are citizens. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, the rules refer to the law of the country in which the marriage was celebrated.
“Freedom of movement becomes a legal illusion when marriages entered into in one EU Member State are not recognised in another. This risks breaking up families. Sexual orientation should not be the main decisive factor in determining validity of marriages,” says Laima Vaige, doctoral student of private international law at Uppsala University.
Protecting the legal system of their own
Countries that refuse to recognise same-sex marriages entered into in another country often justify their reservations in terms of public policy, or so-called ordre public. It is a safeguard for protecting the legal system and values of their own country from overly “alien” foreign law or marital status acquired abroad.
“It is one thing to request to marry a same-sex partner in a country such as Poland. It is an entirely different situation when it comes to recognising already existing marriages. Same-sex marriages entered into lawfully in other EU Member States should be considered valid in the Baltic States and Poland,” Laima contends.
Laima Vaige argues that refusing to apply foreign law solely on the grounds of the special value of heterosexual marriage is incompatible with EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights. This is backed up by case law at both the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union. A more inclusive interpretation is even supported in the legal literature in the countries analysed and, to a certain extent, in the application of the law by public authorities in these countries.
Europeanisation has also had some impact on the possibilities for Member States to refuse to recognise same-sex relationships formalised in another Member State. According to Laima Vaige, this impact should be clearer in the future.
Homophobia influences policies
In her dissertation, Laima Vaige also analyses the countries’ cultural and religious conditions, their understanding of national identity and modern politics, all of which create an emotional context in which the law is applied. She believes that homophobia influences policies and it often plays a decisive role in refusal to recognise valid marriages and registered partnerships.
“It is somewhat odd that the legal literature in the countries I have analysed recommends that existing polygamous marriages should be recognised, while existing same-sex marriages are deemed an impossibility. If same-sex marriage is not recognised, one must ask what the problem actually is. I don’t believe that it is a matter of following the law, but rather, following heteronormative prejudices. According to the European Convention and EU law, heteronormativity should not be acceptable as a sole defence for the refusal to recognize a same-sex marriage,” says Laima Vaige.
Laima Vaige was born in Lithuania and had lived in all of the Baltic States before arriving in Sweden in 2016.
Vaige, Laima (2021) Cross-Border Recognition of Formalized Same-Sex Relationships in Europe: The Role of Ordre Public in the Baltic States and Poland, Uppsala: Department of Law, Uppsala University
More News in English
We participate in Almedalen
In crisis and war, authorities and other public actors, just as under normal conditions, are governed by laws and regulations. The war in Ukraine a...
Erika P. Björkdahl inquiry chair on the new pre-purchase law
Erika P. Björkdahl, Professor of Private Law at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala, has been appointed by the Government as inquiry chair with the task ...
Erika P Björkdahl new Professor of Private Law
The Vice-Chancellor recently decided to promote Erika P Björkdahl to Professor of Private Law at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala.
Professor Anna Jonsson Cornell appointed Sweden's representative in CPT
Recently Professor Anna Jonsson Cornell has been appointed by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as Sweden's representative in the...
Professor Mattias Dahlberg participates in a closing conference on SNS project
SNS, Center for Business and Policy Studies, has during the years 2019-2022 conducted an extensive research project on "Taxes in a globalized world...
- Marc Landeman new Doctor of Law in Private Law
Marc Landeman will defend his dissertation on 14 June
On June 14, Marc Landeman will defend his doctorate in civil law. The main theme of the thesis consists of two questions where he reconstructs the ...
Rebecca Thorburn Stern appointed as an expert in government investigation
The head of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Minister Lena Hallengren, has appointed Rebecca Thorburn Stern as an expert in "The Inquiry into Childr...
Doctoral Degree Conferment Ceremony takes place on 25 May
On 25 May, a ceremonial conferment ceremony will be held within Uppsala University's nine faculties in the auditorium of the University Main Buildi...
The Doctoral Degree Conferment Ceremony
On 18 May, 13 Doctor of Laws from the Faculty of Law were confermed together with other doctors at Uppsala University. The solemn procession was ca...
Jonatan Schytzer and Marek Keller awarded a scholarship by the Foundation Insolvency Law Forum
In connection with the establishment of the Insolvency Law Forum, Jonatan Schytzer was awarded a scholarship for his doctoral thesis "The Origin of...
Alumni Day is approaching May 10
On May 10, it is again time for Alumni Day, which includes interesting seminars, reunions and joint rounding at one of the nations.
Our law programme attracts the most people to the university
A total of 87 617 people have signed up for Uppsala University for the autumn semester 2022, where the law programme peaks.
Visby: What does the law council's criticism mean and what can happen now?
Patrik Bremdal explains what the Law Council's criticism of the Cementa legislation means and what its consequences may have in the future.
Apply for a doctoral student position in Environmental Law!
The Faculty of Law at Uppsala University invites applications for a doctoral student position in environmental law with an interdisciplinary focus.
- Appreciated visit by the U.S. Ambassador
Does international law protect us?
The honorary doctor of the Faculty of Law, Professor Martti Koskenniemi, discusses international law aspects of the invasion of Ukraine.
New means of protecting Ukraine’s refugees
“The biggest refugee situation since the Second World War.” This is how international law scholar Rebecca Thorburn Stern describes the situation pr...
Attention! New room for Guest lecture with Professor Diego Acosta Arcarazo
From 28 March to 9 April, the faculty will be visited by Dr. Diego Acosta Arcarazo, Professor of European and Migration Law in Bristol.
Carl Henrik Ehrenkrona awarded von Matern's premium
Carl Henrik Ehrenkrona has been awarded von Matern's premium by the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University.
Ukrainian researchers get help from Scholars at Risk
Anna Jonsson Cornell, Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law, is currently working intensively with the organisation Sch...
EU project about civil judgments on payment obligations has been completed
The EU project "En4CE - Diversity of Enforcement titles in cross-border debt collection in the EU”, was concluded with an expert meeting 4 - 5 of M...
Jonatan Schytzer named Teacher of the Year for 2021
The Uppsala Law Student Association has named Jonatan Schytzer, Doctor of Laws in Civil Law, as Teacher of the Year for the Law programme in 2021.
Erika P Björkdahl member of the Swedish Estate Inspectorate’s disciplinary committee
Erika P Björkdahl, Associate Professor of Private Law and Director of the Institute for Real Estate Law Research (IFF), has been appointed by the g...
Two new Justices of the Supreme Court with ties to the Faculty of Law in Uppsala
Christine Lager and Jonas Malmberg have just been appointed new Justices of the Supreme Court. Both have ties to Uppsala University and the Faculty...
Law Programme still gets the most applications at Uppsala University
The Law Programme is still at the top as the most sought-after programmes at Uppsala University for the spring round of admissions. A total of 3,86...
- Andreas Kotsios new Doctor of Law in European Law
Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities rewards outstanding researchers and teache
Former doctoral student in Constitutional Law at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala, Doctor of Law Mikael Ruotsi, receives a prize and SEK 50,000 from t...
- Lovisa Halje new Doctor of Law in Private Law
Elisabeth Rynning, former Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman and new visiting professor at the Faculty of
On 28 January Elisabeth Rynning, visiting professor in medical law at the Faculty of Law, was awarded H.M. The King’s Medal of the 12th size with t...
Teresa Quintel - winner of the 4th Stefano Rodotà Award
Previous doctoral student at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala Teresa Quintel wins the 4th Stefano Rodotà Award in the “PhD thesis“ category, for her P...
Anna Jonsson Cornell – expert on parliamentary inquiry
Professor of comparative constitutional law at the Faculty of Law Anna Jonsson Cornell has been appointed an expert on the commission of inquiry re...
More research grants to the Faculty of Law
Doctors of Law Gustaf Almkvist, Mikael Ruotsi and Jonatan Schytzer have been awarded research grants for their respective research projects from th...
Procedural law professor Bengt Lindell honoured in connection with emeritus professor appointment
The volume "Processrättsliga studier tillägnade Bengt Lindell" (Studies in procedural law dedicated to Bengt Lindell) was recently presented to Ben...
SEK 6 million to grant recipient Sandra Friberg
Marianne and Marcus Wallenbergs Foundation grants SEK 6 million to the research project "The Artificial Public Servant", led by Sandra Friberg, Ass...
Joint announcement of doctoral student positions at the Department of Law and the Department of Busi
In a collaboration, we are now announcing two doctoral student positions with admission to postgraduate studies at the Department of Law and employ...
- Conference: Rights of non-humans: AI, Robots, Cyborgs, Animals and Nature- Call for papers
A law student from Uppsala University winner of academic paper competition
The Swedish Competition Authority’s 2021 academic paper competition for students of law and students of economics was recently decided. First priz...
Apply to our popular doctoral programme!
The annual general announcement of doctoral student positions at the Department of Law is now published. By 1 March 2022 you have the chance to app...
New doctoral student in European Law
With a project financed by the Swedish Competition Authority David Fåhraeus was recently admitted as a doctoral student in European Law. We welcome...
The Swedish Linnaeus Society donates its archives to Uppsala University Library
The Swedish Linnaeus Society has donated its archives to Uppsala University Library. The archives have been deposited at the library since the 1970...
Inauguration of professors 2021
On 19 November, new professors at Uppsala University are inaugurated in the University Main Building. The new professors at the Faculty of Law who ...
Anna Singer appointed inquiry chair in the Swedish Government’s inquiry into adoptions
Private Law Professor Anna Singer at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala University has been appointed the inquiry chair to investigate possible irregula...
Winner of essay competition on victims of crime
Former student at the Department of Law at Uppsala University, Armin Khajehdehi, receives third prize in the annual academic paper competition Brot...
Santa Slokenberga new chairperson in the network Nordic Permed Law
Earlier this year, Nordic Permed Law appointed LL.D. Santa Slokenberga, senior lecturer in Administrative Law, as a chair of the board. She succeed...
New research advisory board to speed up climate action
On 1 October 2021, six researchers started their assignment on the environment committee of Region Västra Götaland in preparation for a climate tra...
New doctoral students at the Faculty of Law in Uppsala
This autumn and at the beginning of next year, we welcome six new doctoral students, all of whom were admitted to our popular doctoral programme in...
Recipient of von Matern’s prize honoured
Ingrid Uggla, recipient of this year’s von Matern’s prize, was celebrated in connection with a seminar on 28 September.
Welcome to apply for a senior lectureship in Public International Law
The Faculty of Law in Uppsala announces a position as senior lecturer in public international law.
- Kacper Szkalej new Doctor of Law in Private Law