Finnish citizen Emmi Pihlajaniemi and her Italian partner Elisa Bestetti registered their relationship in Finland five years ago. They also adopted each other’s daughters. In Finland their relationship is legally recognised and protected, however it would not be the same in Italy.
“This would not be possible in Italy because of the legislation. And these (rights) aren’t automatically transferred when we are in Italy. Currently in Italy Elisa is not married and each of the children only has one legal guardian,” Emmi explained.
“It’s a strange situation for the girls because in Finland they have two parents and only one in Italy,” added Elisa.
Only a handful of the 27 member states in the European Union recognise gender-neutral marriages.
Registered same-sex relationships are possible in 10 countries, including Finland. Another 11 countries such as Italy do not acknowledge the rights of sexual minorities.
Finland for living, Italy for vacations
The dichotomy means that the rainbow family resides in Finland – and only vacations in Italy.
“Everyday life would probably work in Italy, but it would be more uncertain and there would have to be many more separate arrangements and we would have to explain our custody and living arrangements with different officials, doctors, teachers and so on; and we wouldn’t be protected by the law,” Emmi pointed out.
The free movement of people through EU member states is a basic right of nationals and one of the building blocks of the Union.
But for same sex couples moving from country to country almost invariably causes problems and questions to arise.
“If something happens, no one really knows what to do, for example if one of us were to die, or if we split up,” Emmi said.
In principle, the solution should be easy. Evidence of marriage in one EU state should be legally valid and recognized in other EU states, even if national laws varied.
The EU’s decision making body, the European Commission, has also proposed such an approach. However, anti-homosexual lobbies have rejected the proposal, leaving families like Emmi’s and Elisa’s with few options for relocation in the foreseeable future.
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